More Kids, Teens May Be Taking Multiple Psychiatric Meds

Health Day

By Ernie Mundell HealthDay Reporter

A recent study conducted in Maryland has highlighted a concerning trend: an increasing number of children and teens covered by Medicaid are being prescribed multiple psychiatric medications, a practice known as "polypharmacy." This study, led by Yueh-Yi Chiang, a graduate student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, observed that from 2015 to 2020, there was a 4% increase each year in the odds of young Medicaid enrollees being prescribed multiple psychotropic drugs. The research, which analyzed prescription data for nearly 127,000 Medicaid enrollees under 18, found that the percentage of those receiving multiple psychiatric drugs rose from 4.2% in 2015 to 4.6% in 2020.

The study, published on February 16, 2024, in JAMA Network Open, also revealed that certain groups were more likely to be affected by polypharmacy. Specifically, children and teens who were either disabled or in foster care were significantly more likely to be prescribed three or more classes of psychotropic drugs for periods extending 90 days or more, compared to those with low income. Notably, polypharmacy rates among kids in foster care increased from 10.8% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2020.

While the reasons behind this steady rise in polypharmacy remain unclear, the research team suggests that factors such as complex medical conditions, early-life trauma, and fragmented care might contribute to these findings. This underscores the necessity of monitoring the use of combinations of psychotropic drugs, especially among vulnerable populations like youths enrolled in Medicaid who have a disability or are in foster care.

This study adds to a growing body of research indicating that the trend towards prescribing multiple psychiatric medications to young individuals may be a nationwide issue. Previous studies have also pointed to similar patterns, further emphasizing the importance of careful consideration and monitoring in the prescription of psychiatric medications to children and adolescents.

Source: HealthDay, "More Kids, Teens May Be Taking Multiple Psychiatric Meds," U.S. News & World Report, February 16, 2024.


Prepared with the assistance of AI software

OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model].

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