Antipsychotics Linked to Diabetes, Weight Gain in Kids

In JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab published the largest study to date documenting the significant risks to children’s health associated with prescription antipsychotics, a powerful a class of medications used to treat mental and behavioral health disorders. 

The results suggest that initiating antipsychotics may elevate a child’s risk not only for significant weight gain, but also for type II diabetes by nearly 50%; moreover, among children who are also receiving antidepressants, the risk may double.

Traditionally, antipsychotics have been narrowly prescribed to children with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or to those with significant developmental delays who were displaying aggressive behaviors that were potentially injurious to themselves or others. However, in recent years, these medications are increasingly being prescribed in the absence of strong supporting safety and efficacy data to treat healthier children and adolescents with disruptive behaviors, such as those who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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