Study Finds 1.2 Percent of Preschoolers on Medicaid Use Psychotropic Drugs

Newswise — A new study finds that that 1.2 percent of American preschool children on Medicaid are using psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers and medications for attention-deficit disorder.
Using 2000-2003 Medicaid Analytic Extract data from 36 states, a group of researchers at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found preschoolers are receiving psychotropic medications despite limited evidence supporting safety or efficacy.
The results of the study are published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
“Because we don’t have indications in our data, it is not entirely clear why these children are receiving psychotropic drugs,” said Lauren Garfield, PhD, lead author on the study, who was a postdoctoral research associate at the Brown School when the study was conducted and is now with Mercy Research in St. Louis.
“It is possible that some of these children have brain injuries or insults, such as traumatic brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome or the like, for which treatment is being provided. But if these medications are being used solely for behavioral control, then it seems clear that we need to better assess these children, and see if they might be better served by the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions,” said Ramesh Raghavan, MD, PhD, co-author on the study, associate professor at the Brown School and associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine


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