SAN DIEGO — Children with autism spectrum disorder were prescribed stimulants, atypical antipsychotics, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors more frequently than children without an autism diagnosis, according to data presented here.
While psychotropic medication use among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been of concern among pediatricians for many years, previous data neglected to compare their use against children without ASD.
To examine rates of psychotropic medication prescriptions in children with ASD, researchers evaluated prescription data from the Military Health System database for children aged 2 to 18 years with ASD (n = 48,810) against a matched control group of children without an ASD diagnosis (n = 244,045).
The researchers queried the database for psychotropic medications prescribed for both groups of children, and performed conditional logistic regression with odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals calculated for the medication having been prescribed due to the presence of an ASD diagnosis.
According to study results, 48.01% of children with ASD had been prescribed a stimulant compared with 11.67% of the children without ASD (OR = 8.5; 95% CI, 8.25-8.67). Among children with ASD, 30.4% were prescribed an atypical antipsychotic vs. only 2.06% without ASD who received the same medication (OR=23.8; 95% CI, 22.9-24.8).
In addition, researchers noted that 26.99% of children with ASD were prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor compared to only 4.07% of children without an ASD (OR = 10.95; 95% CI, 10.59-11.31).
“This data may also indicate that [children with ASD] are given these medications at higher rates than expected compared to rates of comorbid conditions for which these medications are typically given,” the researchers wrote. – by Bob Stott
Tolson DJ, et al. Abstract #3883.336. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies 2015; April 25-28, 2015; San Diego.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.