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Use of antipsychotic medications in pediatric populations: what do the data say?

Recent reports of antipsychotic medication use in pediatric populations describe large increases in rates of use. Much interest in the increasing use has focused on potentially inappropriate prescribing for non-Food and Drug Administration-approved uses and use amongst youth with no mental health diagnosis. Different studies of antipsychotic use have used different time periods, geographic and insurance populations of youth, and aggregations of diagnoses. We review recent estimates of use and comment on the similarities and dissimilarities in rates of use. We also report new data obtained on 11 health maintenance organizations that are members of the Mental Health Research Network in order to update and extend the knowledge base on use by diagnostic indication. Results indicate that most use in pediatric populations is for disruptive behaviors and not psychotic disorders. Differences in estimates are likely a function of differences in methodology; however, there is remarkable consistency in estimates of use by diagnosis.

Authors: Penfold RB; Hunkeler EM; Simon GE; et al.

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):426.

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