Antipsychotic Medications Raise the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes for Children

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While many parents have criticized the prescription of “atypical” antipsychotic medications to children and young adult with behavioral problems or mood disorders, chances are most didn’t worry about diabetes. But, as a study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently showed, young people taking medications such as risperidone, quetiapine, aripiprazol, or olanzapine are three-times the risk for developing type 2 diabetes within the first year of taking the drug.

Other studies have previously illustrated this type of risk, this is the first large study focusing on the risk for children, as Wayne A. Ray Ph.D., professor of Preventative Medicine and senior author of the study, told Carole Bartoo. These drugs make up the majority of prescriptions for non-psychosis-related mood, attention, or behavioral disorders in young people.

“Because we wanted to address this question of risk for indications for which there were therapeutic alternatives, we deliberately excluded those taking antipsychotics for schizophrenia and other psychoses; thus, our entire sample consisted of patients for whom there were alternatives to antipsychotics,” Ray said.

The study, published in the Aug. 21 edition of the journal JAMA Psychiatry, examined state-provided medical records from TennCare youths between the ages of 6-24 from 1996 to 2007. They compared children prescribed with atypical antipsychotics against children taking approved medications for attention, behavioral, or mood disorders.

Even after taking into account other disorders commonly associated with diabetes, the children taking antipsychotics had a threefold increase in the chance of developing type 2 diabetes within a year. The risk increased depending on cumulative dosages, and even continued to be increased up to a year after the medications were stopped.

It should be noted that type 2 diabetes is still uncommon for young people in this age group. Out of the 29,000 young people in the antipsychotic medication group and the 14,400 children in the control group, only 106 were actually diagnosed and treated for this form of diabetes.

“That’s why this study had to be so large, in order to detect clinically meaningful differences in the risk of type 2 diabetes, a relatively uncommon, but serious condition for children and youth,” Ray said.

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