New research shows that children in the U.S. are six times more likely to be prescribed an anti-psychotic medication compared to children in the U.K.
Scientists at the University of London’s Pharmacy School found that anti-psychotic medications were prescribed for U.K. children at a rate of less than 4 per 10,000 children in 1992.
Thirteen years later the number of children taking these drugs nearly doubled, with children being prescribed anti-psychotics at a rate of 7 per 10,000.
In the U.S., anti-psychotic prescriptions doubled in just seven years. U.S. researchers previously found that nearly 23 American children out of 10,000 used the drugs in 1996, versus more than 45 per 10,000 in 2001.
The U.K. study examined 16,000 children’s health records from 1992 to 2005. Researchers found most anti-psychotic drugs prescribed were not officially approved for children, with the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat autism and attention deficit disorder ADHD).
“This highlights the need for long-term safety investigations and ongoing clinical monitoring, particularly if the prescribing rate of these medicines continues to rise,” they said in their research.
Side effects including weight gain and heart problems have been reported in autistic or hyperactive children treated with anti-psychotic drugs, and the researchers claim there is little long-term evidence the drugs are safe.
The findings of the study appear in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics.