Troubled Kids Aren’t Psychotic Kids: Children In Foster Care Needlessly Being Given Antipsychotic Drugs

prescription drugsChildren who go into the foster care system may have behavioral problems, but that doesn’t mean they need to be put on severe psychotic drugs. A new report on the status of kids in foster care reveals that a surprising number of kids in the system are being doped up on medications used for severe bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The New York Times reports that these findings are the first to investigate how foster care kids are sometimes given two anti-psychotic drugs at once to curb their temperament. Doctors say that there is not enough medical evidence to support this prescription use in very young kids. Overall, foster care kids are twice as likely to be on antipsychotic drugs than children with homes despite that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are rare in small children.

Psychotic drugs carry all kinds of side effects, including rapid weight gain and other metabolic problems. Doctors, aware of the side effects, often end up putting these kids on more than one drug to counteract the side effects of the first. According to the Times, two antipsychotic drugs can increase those metabolic risks.

Susan dosReis, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the lead author of the report, pointed out that although these kids are troubled, they are far from being bipolar considering their age:

”The kids in foster care may come from bad homes, but they do not have the sort of complex medical issues that those in the disabled population do.”

Rutger’s University and 16 other states are reportedly putting together some much needed guidelines to help improve the lives of foster care kids. Although doctors are reportedly not being paid by drug companies to pump these kids full of prescriptions, the government isn’t investing much into psychosocial therapy. The well-being and development of so many children depends on doctors properly diagnosing and treating these kids who are already at a disadvantage for not having a guardian. The widespread and unfounded use of antispsychotic drugs certainly doesn’t bode well for their future, or those families who someday might adopt them.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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