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Children in foster care and concurrent antipsychotic meds (USA)

December 15, 2011

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore have discovered that children in the foster care system in the United States are prescribed concurrent psychotic medications, for extended periods, at alarming rates. According to the researchers, treatment regimes prescribing overlapping psychotics are not supported by evidence whereas the adverse metabolic effects of antipsychotics are well documented.

Investigators looked at concurrent antipsychotic treatments for almost 17,000 children and adolescents under 20 years, who were in foster care. They compared this group to others who were eligible for Medicaid under physical, psychological or developmental impairment and to those who met eligibility criteria under financial need.

Children with a diagnosis of conduct disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, depression or mood disorder were discovered to have a much higher likelihood of concomitant antipsychotic prescription. The research did not include data on the reasons for concurrent prescriptions, so investigators could only speculate on why this is occurring.

Further research into this area is required, however according to other researchers this study does raise a “red flag” for an extremely vulnerable population.

To read the Medscape summary of this research, go to or the article, “Antipsychotic Treatment Among Youth in Foster Care” published online in the November 21, 2000 issue of Pediatrics at

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