Number of medicated children on the rise

November 5, 2008

The number of US children using medications for chronic illnesses increased between 2002 and 2005, reported researchers in the October 31 online Pediatrics.

The number of US children using medications for chronic illnesses increased between 2002 and 2005, reported researchers in the October 31 online Pediatrics.

Investigators performed a cross-sectional study of prescription claims data from 2002 to 2005 for a nationally representative sample of more than 3.5 million children who ages 5 to 19. Antihypertensives, antihyperlipidemics, type 2 antidiabetics, antidepressants, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications, and asthma-controller therapy were evaluated.

Results showed that the prevalence rate for type 2 antidiabetic agents doubled, with a 166% increase in prevalence among females ages 10 to 14, and a 135% increase among females ages 15 to 19. Asthma medications (46.5%), ADD and ADHD medications (40.4%), and antihyperlipidemics (15%) all increased in prevalence as well, while antihypertensives and antidepressants increased at a relatively lower rate (1.8%).

The study authors noted that additional research is needed to investigate the possible factors involved in the increase in medication use prevalence among children, such as chronic disease risk factors growth, greater awareness and screening, and greater use of early treatment.