Eerie figures reflect comparatively high use of psychotropic drugs among American children and teens
The United States has higher rates of prescription psychotropic drug use among children and teens according to a new study published online in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. According to the study, the prevalence of psychotropic drug use was 6.66% among American youths; in Dutch and German youths these numbers were at 2.9% and 2%. Use of more than one psychotropic medication at one time occurred in 19.2% of the American cohort, but only in 8.5% and 5.9% of Dutch and German children and teens. Researchers conducting the study commenting stated, “Differences in policies regarding direct-to-consumer drug advertising, government regulatory restrictions, reimbursement policies, as well as diagnostic classification systems and cultural beliefs regarding the role of medication for emotional and behavioral treatment are likely to account for these differences.” The follow is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the findings in more detail:
Over the past decade, prescriptions for psychotropic drugs have been rising across western Europe and in the U.S., according to the researchers.
To assess between-country variation, Dr. Zito and colleagues examined administrative claims data for the year 2000 on insured children and teens in the Netherlands (110,944), Germany (356,520), and the U.S. (127,157).
Use of psychotropic medications in the U.S. was 2.27 times higher than in the Netherlands (95% CI 2.22 to 2.32) and 3.33 times higher than in Germany (95% CI 3.27 to 3.40).
Usage in Dutch youths was 1.47 times greater than among German youths (95% CI 1.44 to 1.51).
In all three countries, the prevalence of psychotropic medication use was highest in boys among those ages 10 to 14 and in girls among those 15 to 19.
Stimulant use was found in 4.3% of the U.S. cohort, compared with 1.2% and 0.7% in the Netherlands and Germany, respectively. Among children up to age four, the prevalence of stimulant use in the U.S. (0.5%) was 10 to 25 times higher than in the other two countries.
In the U.S., stimulant prescriptions were split evenly between amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin), but methylphenidate comprised more than 95% of the prescriptions in the European populations.