Despite the lack of evidence of the safety of antipsychotics in children, who are smaller in size and still rapidly developing, the number of prescriptions to English youth has doubled between 2000 to 2019, a study suggests.
The researchers from the University of Manchester examined over seven million children and adolescents aged three to 18.
They discovered that youth prescriptions of antipsychotics – drugs used to treat major mental illnesses, such as autism, schizophrenia, and ADHD – increased from 0.06 percent to 0.11 in the past two decades.
While the percentage is small, co-author and senior research fellow at the University of Manchester Matthias Pierce said that the higher prevalence of these disorders, as well as a growing trend to prescribe antipsychotics by clinicians, is concerning.
“However, [it] will help clinicians to evaluate the prescribing of antipsychotics to children more fully and will encourage them to consider better access to alternatives,” Pierce said.
Antipsychotics have been associated with long-term side effects, including sexual dysfunction, infertility, and weight gain leading to diabetes.