Gender Bias Found in Novel Medication Study

     (CN) – The first-ever study of U.S. antipsychotic prescription patterns shows that boys are more likely than girls to receive such medications.
     Among children receiving the drugs, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common diagnosis, according to the study released Wednesday.
     Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, the study says depression was most prevalent among those over age 18.
     Researchers emphasize that the Food and Drug Administration has approved antipsychotics for bipolar disorder, autism and psychosis/schizophrenia, but not ADHD.
     The National Institutes of Health reported that its study suggests that “these medications are being used to treat developmentally limited impulsivity and aggression rather than psychosis.”
     Researchers found that boys receive antipsychotics more than girls in all age ranges, including more than twice as often from ages 1-12.
     The disparity narrows after the age of 19 to 0.88 percent of young men to 0.81 percent of young women.
     About 1.5 percent of boys ages 10 to 18 were prescribed antipsychotics in 2010, and that number was reduced by almost half after age 19, according to the study.
     Michael Schoenbaum, senior advisor at NIMH for mental health services, epidemiology and economics, called this finding “especially important.”
     “Antipsychotics should be prescribed with care,” Schoenbaum, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “They can adversely affect both physical and neurological function, and some of their adverse effects can persist even after the medication is stopped.”
     Fewer than half of young people receiving antipsychotics had a medical visit that included the diagnosis of a mental disorder, the study showed.
     “That may be in part due to stigma about mental illness or because primary care providers are concerned about reimbursement for treatment related to such diagnoses,” the NIH reported.For NIMH director Thomas Insel, a positive finding from this study is “that around 75 percent of these kids have at least some contact with a psychiatrist.”

%d bloggers like this: