(HealthDay News) – There has been a substantial increase in antipsychotic use among Medicaid-enrolled children in recent years, with the increase partially driven by youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and those with multiple diagnoses, according to a study published online September 4th in Health Services Research.

Meredith Matone, MHS, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues used Medicaid Analytic Extract files for 50 states and the District of Columbia to describe the relationship between mental health diagnosis and treatment with antipsychotics in children from 2002–2007.

The researchers found that there was a 62% increase in antipsychotic use, reaching 354,000 youth by 2007. Proportionally, youth with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism were more likely to receive antipsychotics, while the largest consumers of antipsychotics over time were youth with ADHD and those with three or more mental health diagnoses. By 2007, 50% of total antipsychotic use was for youth with ADHD and one in seven antipsychotic users were youth with a sole diagnosis of ADHD.

“This national analysis revealed persistent growth in second-generation antipsychotic use among U.S. Medicaid-enrolled children during the past decade,” the authors write. “In the context of a complex relationship between childhood behavior, diagnosis, and treatment, future research will need to more broadly examine the efficacy and safety of second-generation antipsychotic use in pediatric populations and the potential consequences of efforts to restrict their use.”

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