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Side effects are always a question of power.

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK | Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:15pm EST

(Reuters Health) - The antipsychotic drugs that are increasingly being used to treat bipolar disorder, autism and other mental disorders in children may come with an increased risk of diabetes, a new study suggests.

Previous research has linked the so-called second-generation antipsychotics to an increased risk of diabetes in adults. And there’s been some evidence that the drugs can cause weight gain in children.

The new findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, add to concerns that the medications may ultimately lead to diabetes in some kids.

Using records from three U.S. health plans, researchers found that children and teens who started on an antipsychotic had four times the risk of being diagnosed with diabetes, versus kids not using any psychiatric medication.

They developed diabetes at a rate of just over three cases per 1,000 children per year. That compared with just under 0.8 cases per 1,000 among medication-free kids.

Second-generation antipsychotics include drugs such as Risperdal, known generically as risperidone, Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine) and Abilify (aripiprazole).

The drugs are used to treat conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and irritability and aggression in children with autism. They are also sometimes given to children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), even though there’s no research evidence to support that.

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