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(Australia) More kids on antipsychotic drugs "to manage common childhood behavioural problems"

Dec 18, 2018, Spike in number of Australian children put on antipsychotic drugs New figures have revealed a worrying trend among Aussie children, which leaves them exposed to damaging side effects. Doctors are putting more than 1000 additional Australian children per year on sedating antipsychotic drugs that can cause obesity, diabetes, brain impairments and movement disorders, “very concerning” federal government figures show. Australia’s peak healthcare safety body has revealed it is investigating “inappropriate” prescribing to children of the controversial medications, warning they “can cause long-term harm, even at low doses”. Federal health department data provided to show the number of children aged 17 or under prescribed antipsychotics increased by 24 per cent between 2013-14 and 2017-18, far outstripping the age group’s 5 per cent population growth. The prescribing hike means an estimated 24,700 Australian children were given the drugs in 2017-18, according to analysis of the data and numbers from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care by Experts are concerned the high-risk drugs, traditionally reserved for severe psychosis, are being used to manage common childhood behavioural problems, particularly “disruptive behaviour” presentations they say should be addressed with non-medication therapies or less-risky pills. Stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and mild to moderate autism are also among the unapproved or inappropriate uses, senior clinicians and studies suggest. … University of Queensland senior lecturer in psychiatry Peter Parry, who co-authored the warning paper, said most children on antipsychotics were “basically having their disruptive behaviour sedated” at the “risk of serious side effects”. Antipsychotics had a place for children with a true psychotic illness, severe autism or “sometimes in rare cases of obsessive compulsive disorder … with pause for thought about the risk/benefit ratio”, but the cost was too high when used with other kids to manage their disruptive or aggressive behaviour….

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