(HealthDay News) – Psychotropic medications, singly and in combination, are commonly prescribed for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), according to research published online Oct. 21 in Pediatrics.

Donna Spencer, PhD, of OptumInsight in Eden Prairie, Minn., and colleagues reviewed claims data from 2001–2009 for 33,565 children with ASD to assess rates and predictors of psychotropic use.

The researchers found that 64% of children with ASD had filled a prescription for ≥1 psychotropic medication. Polypharmacy was evident, with concurrent medication fills across ≥2 drug classes in 35% and across ≥3 classes in 15%. Factors associated with greater risk of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy included older age; psychiatrist visit; and evidence of comorbid conditions such as seizures, attention-deficit disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression.

“Despite minimal evidence of the effectiveness or appropriateness of multidrug treatment of ASD, psychotropic medications are commonly used, singly and in combination, for ASD and its co-occurring conditions,” the authors write.

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