Medication for children and adolescents: current issues

Paramala J. Santosh

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI:
Medication for children and adolescents: current issues

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Problems of mental health and behaviour in children are multidisciplinary in nature and optimal treatment is often multimodal. This article focuses on aspects of psychopharmacology that has special relevance in children and adolescents, especially the recent controversies. In general, this article provides information about classes of medication and not detailed information about specific medicines. Treatment recommendations of the specific disorders have been dealt within the appropriate chapters. The use of psychotropic medication in children is higher in the United States than in many other countries, and polypharmacy is common. About 1 per cent of overall medical consultations visits by children and adolescents in 2003–2004 in the US resulted in a second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) prescription. The majority of the visits involving antipsychotics were by Caucasian boys aged over nine years, visiting specialists, without private insurance, with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, psychosis, depression, disruptive disorder, or anxiety. >Pre-school (2 to 4 year olds) psychotropic medication use, between 1995 and 2001 increased across the US for stimulants, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, while the use of anxiolytics, sedatives, hypnotics and anticonvulsants remained stable across these years, suggesting non-psychiatric medical usage. Ethnicity may influence differential prescription rates; for example, as compared to Caucasian youths, African-American youths are less likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications especially methylphenidate.

Chapter.  5640 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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