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Home Wellness Research Sports High Jump in Preschool Prescription Use

High Jump in Preschool Prescription Use

Monday, 03 November 2008 18:43
The prescription of psychotropic drugs for preschoolers has rocketed during recent years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers pooled data on 2-4 year olds enrolled in one Midwestern state Medicaid program, one Mid-Atlantic state Medicaid program and one Northwestern health maintenance organization.

The study revealed that the use of stimulants and antidepressants increased significantly between 1991 and 1995, while the use of neuroleptics remained steady. Altogether, 90% of stimulant prescriptions were for the drug methylphenidate (Ritalin ®). Over the five years reviewed, Ritalin prescriptions jumped 3-fold in the Midwestern group, 1.7-fold in the Mid-Atlantic group and 3.1-fold in the Northwestern group.

The report also identified a dramatic increase in off-label prescriptions, such as the stimulant clonidine. The study's authors defined off-label prescriptions as "for treatment indications with little or no proven efficacy and lacking product package insert labeling information approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)." They caution that the psychotropic drugs given to preschoolers (both on- and off- label) have not been proven safe or effective for long-term use.

Zito JM; Safer DJ; dosReis S; Gardner JF; Boles M; Lynch F   Trends in the prescribing of psychotropic medications to preschoolers   JAMA 2000 (Feb 23);   283 (8):   1025-1030