Researchers with the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit (CAHRDS Unit) at the University of Louisville have begun a study to examine the higher-than-average rate of psychotropic medication being prescribed to children in the Bluegrass State, Kentucky.
Psychotropic medications (PMs) alter chemical levels in the brain that impact an individuals' mood and behavior. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, drugs for attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers are some of the more commonly used PMs. They produce good results among most patients, but also can cause worrisome side effects in some, and their interactions with each other can create problems as well.
The analysis showed that out of the almost 600,000 children receiving Medicaid in Kentucky, one in seven i.e. 14 percent children have been prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. 42 percent of the children in Kentucky's foster care system have been prescribed at least one psychotropic drug. Both statistics are almost twice the national average, where just 7.4 percent of kids receiving Medicaid and 26.6 percent of kids in the foster care system have been prescribed a PM.
Gilbert Liu, M.D., the study's principal investigator and the chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at UofL said, "We also are concerned that children are getting prescriptions for psychotropic medications that are not FDA-approved. Also worrisome is that some children are being prescribed two or more of these very potent drugs."
The researchers will conduct a three-phased study to find out why these drugs are given to Kentucky children at almost twice the national rate and get to the heart of the problem to address this concerning trend.