August 26, 2013 — JAMA Psychiatry has published a study linking antipsychotic drugs (Risperdal, Abilify, etc.) to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes in children. During the first year on these drugs, children have a tripled increased risk of diabetes.
Although the link between antipsychotic drugs and diabetes was well-established in adults, this is one of the first studies to investigate the side effect in children. Drug-makers have already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle thousands of lawsuits from adults.
The researchers’ conclusions were based on data from the Tennessee Medicaid program. They analyzed data on 28,858 children between 6-24 years old who started taking an antipsychotic drug, and compared them to 14,429 matched control patients who took other psychiatric drugs (Adderall, Ritalin, clonidine, guanfacine, benzodiazepines).
The researchers found children who took an antipsychotic drugs were 3-times as likely to be diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in the first year than children on other psychiatric medications. Risperdal (risperidone) was associated with a 2.2-fold increased risk of diabetes.
Traditionally, antipsychotic medications were only used to treat severe disorders, like schizophrenia. However, in recent years, they have increasingly been prescribe “off-label” to treat hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, depression, and other mood disorders. The study highlights the risk permanent complications from short-term use of antipsychotic drugs in children.