Trends in use of psychotropic medication in children and adolescents with Down syndrome (DS) appear to be age-related, as a new study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics suggests that teens and young adults are significantly more likely to be on psychotropic medications compared to younger children.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reviewed the electronic health records of 832 children with DS aged 5–21 years from 2010–2013; medication use that included central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), atypical antipsychotics, and alpha adrenergic agonists were assessed for distribution of rates of medication use across age groups along with between-group comparisons.
Patients with DS aged 12–21 years were more likely to be taking any medication at some point (25%) vs. younger children aged 5–11 years (17%). The odds of being on a psychotropic medication increased with age for all medication classes studied in children aged 5–11 years while the odds of being on a CNS stimulants increased with age for all medication classes for those aged 12–18 years. Use of atypical antipsychotics peaked in ages 11–14 years and was higher among boys than girls for all ages. As children and teens aged, increasing use of SSRIs was also observed.
These age-related trends suggest that the type and severity of neurobehavioral problems in children with DS are likely to change over time. The study co-author Julia Anixt, MD stated that clinicians need to be more systematic in the screening, diagnosis, and management of mental health conditions in children and adolescents with DS; long-term outcomes and quality of life could be improved in these patients with the addition of behavioral and mental health conditions in the American Academy of Pediatrics health guidelines for children with DS.
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