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“Alarming” Weight Gain Seen in Kids on Antipsychotic Drugs

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A new study has found that the antipsychotic medications Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal and Abilify cause significant and alarming weight gain in children.  According to an article on Forbes.com, children taking these medications also experienced elevated metabolic parameters, including cholesterol and triglyceries. While weight gain is a known side effect of these drugs, Forbes said the  new study points to even deeper increase.

The research was conducted at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York and the findings are being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the study, children on Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa gained 19 pounds in three months; children taking AstraZeneca’s Seroquel, Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal, and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify gained 10 to 13 pounds in the same time frame, said Forbes. Meanwhile, Seroquel and Zyprexa were linked to “statistically significant” cholesterol level increases and Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Risperdal were found to increase triglyceride levels, added Forbes, which explained that triglycerides are fatty particles in the blood.

The study tracked  272 children, aged four to 19 who were initially prescribed popular antipsychotic medications between 2001 and 2007.  The researchers discovered that while increases in weight were dependent on the drug, the gains appeared in the entire spectrum of atypical antipsychotic medications, reported Forbes.

Weight gain sustained over long periods of time can cause adverse outcomes like diabetes and heart attacks and strokes.

Forbes also noted that  children in the study were being prescribed these powerful medications for diagnoses that are not psychotic in nature, such as aggression, sleep problems, and attention deficit disorder (ADD).   Experts feel these children would benefit from milder drugs and counseling. Another issue is a diagnosis that is growing in popularity. Pediatric bipolar disorder can be treated with atypical antipsychotics; however, diagnosis criteria is considered weak, reported Forbes.

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