Over the past several months, there has beena steady trickle of reports emanating from around the US that indicate antipsychotics have been prescribed to children, even when appropriate regulatory approval has been lacking. Now, a forthcoming study suggests the same trend has been occurring in the UK, The Guardian reports.
The number of children on the drugs has doubled since the early 1990s, according to the first comprehensive analysis, which was conducted by Ian Wong, a professor of pediatric medicines research at the London School of Pharmacy. His analysis, which will be published next month in Pediatrics, shows that between 1992 and 2005, 3,000 UK children were given antipsychotics, the paper writes.
Moreover, twice as many scrips were written for children in 2005 as in 1992, with the biggest increase in the 7-to-12 age group, where the number of antipsychotics prescribed tripled. The largest category of use was in cases of behavioral and personality disorders, including bipolar disorder (manic depression), autism and hyperactivity.
Wong says children on antipsychotics are more likely to die earlier - something which may not be caused by the drug but which gives cause for concern. "The mortality rate is much higher. It could be some underlying problem of the brain. It doesn't show the drug is causing any deaths, but there is this inequality," he tells The Guardian. He adds, however, that some children had underlying, incurable conditions such as AIDS, so it is hard to establish whether the drugs played any part in those deaths.