A study of nearly 6 million children and teens found that the number of children taking prescription medicines to lower blood pressure (BP) and manage diabetes has increased significantly from 2004 to 2007.
For the study, researchers at CVS Caremark used the company's database to track prescriptions filled for children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 years whose prescriptions were covered by private health insurance. The findings indicated that prescriptions for BP medications, diabetes medications, and statins rose by >15% for the 3-year period, increasing from 3.3 prescriptions per 1000 children in late 2004 to 3.8 per 1000 by mid-2007.
When assessed separately, diabetes medications saw a 23% rise, and there was a 15% increase in pediatric prescriptions for BP medications. During the same period, however, prescriptions for statins fell by almost 23%. The investigators hypothesized that this decrease may have been attributed to the controversy about prescribing these drugs to children, according to lead researcher Joshua N. Liberman, vice president of strategic research at CVS Caremark.
"Children and adolescents are starting to show signs of chronic health conditions and cardiovascular risk factors that are typically reserved for adults," he said. "We need to be educating health care providers about the opportunities for managing these patients."
Dr. Liberman faults the rise to the dramatic increase in obesity among children. In addition, however, he said that physicians are becoming more aware of the health consequences of obesity among children and starting treatment early.
This study is one of several reports on childhood obesity reported in the April 2009 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
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