An increasing number of children age 2 or younger are being prescribed psychiatric drugs to address their violent or withdrawn behavior, The New York Times reports.
Experts say there is no published research on the drugs’ effectiveness and potential health risks for this age group.
Among the antipsychotic drugs being prescribed for infants are risperidone (Risperdal) and quetiapine (Seroquel). These drugs are typically used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults. Almost 20,000 prescriptions for antipsychotic medications were written last year for children 2 and younger, the article notes. This represents a 50 percent increase from the previous year, according to the prescription data company IMS Health.
Most antipsychotics are indicated only for children 10 and older. Risperdal is approved for children as young as 5, but only for irritability associated with autism.
Prescriptions for the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) increased 23 percent in one year in children 2 and under,...
In the last five years there have been 110 cases of babies and toddlers, whose mothers used opioids during pregnancy, and later died preventable deaths, according to Reuters.
In each case, the babies recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, but were sent home to families not equipped to care for them, the article notes.
The number of babies treated for the drug-withdrawal syndrome known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has almost quadrupled in the last decade, according to a study published earlier this year.
Babies born with NAS undergo withdrawal from the addictive drugs their mothers took during pregnancy, such as oxycodone, morphine or hydrocodone. NAS affected seven babies for every 1,000 admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit in 2004. That number jumped to 27 infants per 1,000 by 2013.
A federal law calls on states to safeguard these infants after they leave the hospital, but that effort...