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Kids taking some ADD meds at risk for diabetes

New study shows children taking antipsychotics are three times more likely to develop diabetes.

As if parents of children with behavioral issues didn’t have enough to worry about, new research shows certain medicines prescribed to treat ADD and other disorders may lead to serious health problems. A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals that children who are prescribed antipsychotics have an increased risk of diabetes triple that of other kids.

Once prescribed only to children for severe cases such as schizophrenia, antipsychotics are now also widely recommended for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and aggressive behavior problems.

Medications that have been linked to an increase of type 2 diabetes in kids and teens include brand name drugs and their generic equivalents:

Earlier studies had also indicated a link between these medications and adults, but there was limited data on their effect in children.

Diabetes can develop quickly

The study concluded that the increased risk occurred within 12 months of taking the drugs, with kids on higher doses even more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Even when children stop taking their medication, their risk remains elevated for as much as one year.

The authors of the study attributed the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes to a number of factors including weight gain, which is common among users of antipsychotics, and the manner in which the drugs alter the body’s insulin resistance.

Talk to your doctor

“My advice would to be very cautious about starting an antipsychotic,” said Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D., Vanderbilt professor of preventive medicine and co-author of the article.  “If the child has one of these indications for one of these other medications, that means looking very carefully at alternative medication — perhaps trying them first. … Then, perhaps at the end of the day it may be necessary to use an antipsychotic, but you at least will have tried the safer options.”

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Source: Study: Antipsychotic drugs put kids at diabetes risk” by Tom Wilemon, The Tennessean / USA Today, August 21, 2013.