August 26, 2013 — A study published in JAMA Psychiatry has linked the use of antipsychotic drugs in children to a tripled increased risk of type-2 diabetes within one year on the drugs. Antipsychotics linked to diabetes include Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify, and Zyprexa.

Drug-makers have already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits involving type-2 diabetes in adults on these drugs, but the study raises significant concerns about the risk in children.

Before this study was published, it was well-known that antipsychotic drugs increased the risk of diabetes in adults. However, the risk in children was unknown.

The researchers conducted a retrospective study of medical records in the Tennessee Medicaid program. They compared data on nearly 28,858 children and youth between 6 and 24 years old who recently initiated an antipsychotic drug. Data was compared to 14,429 matched control patients who were given other psychiatric medicines, such as Adderall, Ritalin, clonidine, guanfacine, and benzodiazepines.

Researchers found that children on antipsychotics had a 3-fold increased risk of type-2 diabetes. Most of the children were diagnosed with diabetes within the first year of taking the drug. The risk also increased with the higher doses. Children were more likely to develop diabetes in the following year after discontinuing the drugs. Children on Risperdal (risperidone) were 2.2-times more likely to have diabetes.

The study raises concern about the long-term risks associated with short-term use of antipsychotics in children. In recent years, antipsychotic drugs have increasingly been prescribed “off-label” to treat children with hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, depression, and other mood disorders. The drugs were traditionally used to treat schizophrenia.


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