Children and young adults taking antipsychotics have increased risk for type 2 diabetes

Young people who use antipsychotic medications for behavior problems or mood disorders could have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a new study reveals.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that drugs like risperidone, quetiapine, aripiprazol and olanzapine led to a threefold increased risk for the condition within the first year of taking the drug. The study is the first large-scale project to assess the effects of antipsychotics on diabetes risk in children and young people.

Schizophrenics excluded

The use of these types of drugs now accounts for the majority of prescriptions for children with non-psychosis-related mood disorders or behavioral problems, the authors noted.

"Because we wanted to address this question of risk for indications for which there were therapeutic alternatives, we deliberately excluded those taking antipsychotics for schizophrenia and other psychoses; thus, our entire sample consisted of patients for whom there were alternatives to antipsychotics," said senior author Wayne A. Ray, PhD., professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt.

The study examined medical records for youths ages 6-24 from 1996 through 2007. Youth who had been prescribed atypical antipsychotics for mood or behavioral disorders were compared with young people who had been prescribed approved medications for these same disorders.

Even after accounting for other risk factors that might precede diabetes, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, those taking the antipsychotics still had triple the risk of developing diabetes within a year. The risk appeared to continue for at least a year after the subjects stopped taking the medications.

Takeaways

The biggest takeaway of the study, Ray said, is that alternatives to antipsychotics should be explored for young people with non-acute mood or behavioral symptoms.

"This is particularly important for high-risk children, for example, those with elevated weight," Ray said. "Children should be monitored carefully for metabolic effects predisposing them to diabetes, and use of the drug should be at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time."

Results of the study are published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: Vanderbilt University

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