Higher-dose antipsychotics linked to increased death risk in kids

A higher risk of unexpected death was found in children and young adults who took a higher dose of antipsychotic medication compared to those who did not take antipsychotics, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry found.

The study looked at the association of antipsychotic medications prescribed for children and young adults without psychosis and risk of unexpected death, which includes deaths linked to unintentional drug overdose or cardiovascular/metabolic causes.

The study included about 250,000 children and young people (ages 5 to 24) enrolled in Medicaid. The patients were new users of antipsychotic medications who got higher or lower doses and new users of non-antipsychotic control for comparison.

The researchers found an increased risk of unexpected death was associated with the group of patients who had a higher dose of antipsychotic medication compared with those who did not take antipsychotics. Other factors may explain the differences between users of antipsychotics and control medications, the researchers said.

"The findings suggest that antipsychotic use is associated with increased risk of unexpected death and appear to reinforce recommendations for careful prescribing and monitoring of antipsychotic treatment for children and youths and to underscore the need for larger antipsychotic treatment safety studies in this population," the researchers said.

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