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Weighing the risks of mental health drugs for children

It is not just transplant patients tapering off anti-rejection drugs who use medications in traditionally untested ways. WHYY’s health and science intern and University of Pennsylvania Bioethics graduate student, Alyssa Bindman, examines the issue.

Children often receive prescriptions for medications to treat conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that have been tested only on adults, leaving a lot of room for questions about the short and long-term effects of using them.

“Children are not just small adults. They have different bodies, minds and brains. They undergo an enormous degree of development,” said Christoph Correll, a research psychiatrist at The Zucker Hillside Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Clinical trials on children are notoriously challenging to conduct – and therefore scarce — in part because they are subject to high levels of scrutiny by review boards. The hesitance of some families to participate in studies out of fear or stress may create an additional barrier, Correll said. Some families and patients are overwhelmed and “don’t want to add any other iota of burden,” he said. They may be suspicious of research, feel exploited, or concerned their child will be used as a “guinea pig.”

Read more here: Weighing the risks of mental health drugs for children | WHYY News and Information | WHYY.

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