Type 2 Diabetes Risk Increased in Children Taking Antipsychotic Medications

Children and adolescents who received antipsychotic medications had an increased absolute risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Children and adolescents who received antipsychotic medications had an increased absolute risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Children and adolescents exposed to antipsychotics have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), the results of a new study suggest.

According to research published in the September 2014 issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the absolute risk of diabetes in children with psychiatric illness who took antipsychotic medications was approximately 0.72%. Meanwhile, children with psychiatric illness who did not receive antipsychotic medications had an absolute risk of 0.27%.

Researchers further determined that female sex and older age at the time of diagnosis were more frequently associated with T2DM onset. The type of psychiatric illness, however, was not associated with diabetes development, they noted.

Researchers analyzed data from Danish national health registers to find psychiatric patients 18 years of age or younger and documented the frequency and possible predictors of T2DM, which they defined as treatment with an oral antidiabetic drug. They then compared the occurrence of T2DM between participants who received antipsychotic drugs and participants who did not.

The resulting cohorts included 7253 participants who received antipsychotic medications and 41,046 who did not. Of participants receiving antipsychotic medications, 52 developed T2DM, whereas 111 participants who did not receive antipsychotic medications developed the condition.

According to a press release on the study, the results raise concern about frequent use of antipsychotic drugs, particularly for non-psychotic disorders and off-label use. Furthermore, regular cardiometabolic monitoring, including fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1C testing, should be an integral part of antipsychotic prescribing to children and adolescents, the release states.

“The use of antipsychotic drug treatment can be necessary for some of the psychiatric disorders diagnosed in children and adolescents,” Dr. René Ernst Nielsen, of Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, said in the release. “This study underscores the importance of following the current guidelines that antipsychotics should only be used in children and adolescents when other evidence-based and safer treatment options have been exhausted.”