American kids most medicated

September 25, 2008

American children are approximately three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe. A new study published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioural problems.

Julie Zito led a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands who investigated prescription levels in the three countries. She said, "Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were three or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater".

The use of antidepressants, like Prozac, and stimulants, like Ritalin, in children has been the subject of a great deal of controversy and this study quantifies the differences in practice between the US and Western Europe. The authors claim that the differences may be partly due to different diagnostic classification systems, "The US trend of increasing bipolar diagnosis in children and adolescents does not reflect European practice". The authors also mention government cost restrictions in Europe, the larger number of child psychiatrists per capita in the US and the use of two or more different psychotropic drugs in a single year in US children as possible explanations.

Zito concludes that, "Direct to consumer drug advertising, which is common in the US, is also likely to account for some of the differences. The increased use of medication in the US also reflects the individualist and activist therapeutic mentality of US medical culture".

Citation: A three-country comparison of psychotropic medication prevalence in youth; Julie M Zito, Daniel J Safer, Lolkje TW de Jong-van den Berg, Katrin Janhsen, Joerg M Fegert, James F Gardner, Gerd Glaeske and Satish C Valluri; Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health (in press)

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: When computers learn to understand doctors' notes, the world will be a better place

Related Stories

Study describes underlying cause of diabetes in dogs

August 17, 2015

In a new effort, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Baylor College of Medicine have used advanced imaging technology to fill in details about the underlying cause of canine diabetes, which until now has been ...

What we need to do to prepare for a nuclear event

August 10, 2015

As we observe the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it may seem like the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But it hasn't; the threat is actually increasing steadily. This is difficult to face ...

Gene splicing in lice and the challenge of clothing

August 7, 2015

A terrific article recently published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, "Alternative Splice in Alternative Lice," provides a compelling example of maximizing genome information – adaptation of the louse Pediculus humanus ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.