The finding is included in a study of chronic meds used in children between 5 to 19 years old, including treatments for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma and depression medications. â€œAcross every chronic medication class we examined over this four year period of time, childrenâ€™s use increased, with varying patterns of growth across males and females and age groups,â€ says Emily Cox, senior director of research at Express Scripts, in a statement e-mailed to us.
For example, the number of teenage boys between 15 and 19 years old who used a blood pressure drug increased by 15.4 percent, while the number of females in the age group taking the drugs, called antihypertensives, declined by 1.6 percent. On the other hand, the number of teenage girls between 15 and 19 years old taking an antidepressant increased by 6.8 percent, but use among teenage boys in the same age bracked declined slightly.
This increase in antidepressant use among 15 to 19 year old girls contrasted with decreases for boys and girls 5 to 9 years old, and boys 10 to 19 years old. It also occurred despite a FDA warnings regarding anti-depressant use by children. Among all children, the prevalence of antidepressant use had been increasing prior to the advisory after which it decreased. You can read the complete poster presentation here.
With asthma, children ages 5 to 9 accounted for the largest increase in the use of meds among the three age groups at 67.3 percent, compared to 38.8 percent for the 10 to 14 age group and 34.7 percent for the 15 to 19 age group. â€œThis may be explained by concerns over long-term side effects of these medications in children and/or greater physician office visits, and therefore greater likelihood of prescribing,â€ says Donna Halloran, assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
â€œOverall, these patterns could reflect changing prescribing behaviors by physicians (anti-hypertensives), increases in the risk factors for chronic diseases (type-2 antidiabetics, antihyperlipidemics), increased office visit rates and therefore screening rates â€“ particularly for females â€“ or trends toward greater use of drug therapy as the preferred mode of treating children with chronic conditions,â€ says Sharon Homan, professor of community health, Saint Louis University School of Public Health.