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Antipsychotic drug use in children for mood/behavior disorders increases type 2 diabetes risk

By Carole Bartoo
February 2014

 “Atypical” antipsychotic medications prescribed to children and young adults with behavioral problems or mood disorders may put them at unnecessary risk for type 2 diabetes, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center study shows. Young people using medications like risperidone, quetiapine, aripiprazol and olanzapine had a threefold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the first year of taking the drug, according to the study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

While other studies have shown an increased risk for type 2 diabetes associated with the use of atypical antipsychotic medications, this is the first large, well-designed study to look at the risk in children, said Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D., professor of Preventive Medicine, and senior author of the study. The authors note the use of these drugs for non-psychosis-related mood, attention or behavioral disorders in children now accounts for the majority of prescriptions.

State-provided, de-identified medical records were examined for TennCare youths ages 6-24 from 1996 through 2007. During that time children and youth who were prescribed treatment with atypical antipsychotics for attention, behavioral or mood disorders were compared with similar youth prescribed approved medications for those disorders. Even with the further elimination of certain disorders that are commonly associated with diabetes, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, those taking antipsychotics had triple the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the following year, with the risk increasing further as cumulative dosages increased. The increased risk persisted for at least a year after the medications were stopped.

Ray and his colleagues say developing type 2 diabetes is still rare in this age group.

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