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Office of Neuroscience Research > WUSTL Neuroscience News > Youths prescribed antipsychotics gain body fat, have increased diabetes risk

Youths prescribed antipsychotics gain body fat, have increased diabetes risk



From the WashU School of Medicine News...

Psychiatrists know that patients who take antipsychotic drugs tend to gain weight. Now, new research conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that children and adolescents treated with antipsychotics for as little as 12 weeks experience significant gains in body fat and also become less sensitive to insulin.

The findings, from researchers at Washington University and Florida Atlantic University, are published June 13 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Although originally developed and approved to treat conditions such as pediatric-onset schizophrenia, antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in many youths who don’t respond to stimulant medications, such as Ritalin.

“Antipsychotic medications can be helpful for many as a treatment for behavior disorders,” said Ginger E. Nicol, MD, the study’s first author and an associate professor of child psychiatry at Washington University. “But we know these drugs also have side effects involving fat gain and insulin resistance, important precursors to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our results underscore the need for greater vigilance regarding side effects when prescribing these medications.”

The researchers studied 144 St. Louis-area youths, ages 6 to 18, who were prescribed antipsychotic drugs to treat disruptive behavior disorders. Children in the study were chosen randomly to receive one of three antipsychotics: aripiprazole, olanzapine or risperidone.

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