Antipsychotics Change Metabolism in Kids

Medical News: ADA: Antipsychotics Change Metabolism in Kids - in Meeting Coverage, ADA from MedPage Today

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At the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association scientists noted that antipsychotics appear to increase body fat and increase the risk of metabolic abnormalities in children and adolescents, researchers said here. Children and adolescents atypical antipsychotics for at least three months had significant increases in body weight and insulin resistance over baseline. "the doses used in the study were relatively small -- "these aren't doses that would be used to treat psychiatric disorders," he said. "These are low doses used in clinical practice to achieve behavioral effects." Overall, there was a significant 2.4% increase in body fat. This was reported by John Newcomer, MD, of the University of Washington, and colleagues.

"These are changes that are associated with increased cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk," Newcomer said. Adult studies have shown that antipsychotics increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death, and researchers have expressed concern over these outcomes in children, who are increasingly treated with these medications -- particularly for non-psychotic disorders like attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. Many are concerned that the effect of antipsychotics in children has not been well studied. But note should be taken, this is a special class of medications and does not include those most often prescribed, such as Ritalin. No one should make over generalizations from these studies. The studies main author, Dr. Newcomer, acknowledged that the drugs did appear to improve behavioral symptoms, showing marked improvements in behavior as measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist. "I was not sympathetic to using antipsychotics in children at the beginning, but I was educated by the psychiatric outcomes here," he said. "They produced profound improvements, with no differences across treatment conditions."

The findings underline the importance of balancing the risks and benefits of antipsychotics in children, Newcomer said, and physicians can help modify that balance by selecting which patients will benefit most from which medication. to summarize: 1) These anti-psychotic medications have an effect on body weight; 2) they were shown to be surprisingly effective, and Dr. Newcomer, who was skeptical of these medications says they "have their place"; 3) Deciding which medication might be appropriate involves everyone knowing and understand the risks and benefits of medications-there seems to be situations where the benefits may very well outweigh the risks; 4) This study only looked a a small group of drugs, anti-psychotics, and not other more commonly prescribed medications for ADHD/ADD. Finally, as usual, this information is not intended in any way to provide medical advice. Take this article (the original) with you to your doctor if you have questions and discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your appropriate medical provider.