Seven Percent of American Children are Taking Psychiatric Medication

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A new government report states that more than 7 percent of American schoolchildren are taking at least one medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties. More importantly, more than half of the parents of these children said the medications are helping.

Source: Tom Varco

Source: Tom Varco

“We can’t advise parents on what they should do, but I think it’s positive that over half of parents reported that medications helped ‘a lot,’ ” said report author LaJeana Howie, a statistical research scientist at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

The study did not identify the specific disorders the children were being treated for, however Howie noted that 81 percent of the children with emotional or behavioral difficulties had been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some point in their lives.

According to HealthDay, the researchers were also unable to identify the specific medications prescribed to the children.

The data used for the study came from the National Health Interview Survey, which continually collects information about health and health care in the U.S. All information on children is gained through parental or other guardian responses and none of the information comes from medical records.

The researchers found that 7.5 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 were being prescribed medication for an emotional or behavioral problem. Interestingly, significantly more males were being given medication than females; 9.7 percent of boys were given medication while only 5.2 percent of girls were. Also of note is the finding that older females were more likely than younger females to be given medication, while there was not a significant difference among males.

In line with previous surveys, the latest study says white children were the most likely to be one psychiatric drugs (9.2 percent), followed by black children (7.4 percent) and Hispanic children (4.5 percent).

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