Lead author Susan dosReis of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania examined Medicaid records of 637,924 children age 20 and younger in foster care, receiving disability benefits or on a family assistance plan.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found overall, 2.7 percent of the children received an anti-psychotic medication, ranging from 11 percent for disabled youths, to 10 percent for youths in foster care, and to 0.7 percent for youths in the family assistance program.
However, among youth who received at least one anti-psychotic medication, 9.2 percent of the foster children were prescribed more than one anti-psychotic simultaneously, while only 6.8 percent of the children on disability benefits and 2.5 percent in the family assistance program were prescribed more than one at a time.
"The mounting evidence of the increased risk associated with these agents has heightened public concern about anti-psychotic prescribing in pediatrics, and specifically adverse metabolic effects and the adequacy of monitoring and oversight," the study authors said in a statement. "The findings highlight the need to put systems into place that can not only monitor and provide oversight of utilization but also evaluate the quality of care and outcomes."