Foster care kids on antipsychotic drugs

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Children in foster care are still taking antipsychotic drugs at an alarming rate. Months ago the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the use of psychoactive drugs by foster kids in five states. Now, a national study from PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia describes the prescription patterns for these same kids, over time, in 48 states. These new findings show that the numbers are climbing. The good news is that the number of kids taking three or more of this class of medication has decreased.

Children in foster care are prescribed psychoactive medications at an exceptionally high rate compared with the general population of US children. The new report shows that one in ten school-aged children aged 6-11 and one in six adolescents aged 12-18 were taking antipsychotics in 2007.

“While it is encouraging to see fewer kids being prescribed multiple classes of drugs, and – to some degree – a slowing rate of growth in the sue of antipsychotics by 2007, these medications are still being prescribed much too frequently to children in the foster care system,” said David Rubin, MD, MSCE, one of the authors and Director of PolicyLab.

There are reasons for the disparity in drug use. Many children in foster care have been traumatized. Many have learning disabilities which proved too difficult for birth parents to manage. Most of the kids use mental health services including psychoactive medications as a result.

“We’re not saying these medications should never be used for children, but the high rate at which they’re used by children in foster care indicates that other interventions and supports such as trauma-based counseling may not be in place for them,” explained Rubin.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, PolicyLab

 
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