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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011 Feb;21(1):79-84. doi: 10.1089/cap.2010.0068. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Early diagnoses and psychotherapeutic medication treatment experiences of a cohort of children under 6 years old who received antipsychotic treatment in Florida's Medicaid program.

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Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida , Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



To describe the diagnostic characteristics and psychotherapeutic medication experiences of a cohort of children who received antipsychotic treatment before their sixth birthday.


Children enrolled in Florida's Medicaid program were identified as having initiated an index episode of antipsychotic treatment before their sixth birthday. The characteristics of these children were compared to nonrecipients who were less than 6 years old on January 1, 2004. An index episode is described as the filling of at least two consecutive antipsychotic prescriptions with a gap no greater than 15 days between the last day supplied of the first prescription and the fill date of the second prescription. We describe the diagnoses and psychotherapeutic medication experiences of these children during the 365 days before the start of their index episodes (preindex periods) and during the 365 days immediately after the start of their index episodes (index periods).


Five hundred twenty-eight recipients were identified. Recipients were more likely than nonrecipients to be male, to be older, and to have a supplemental security income enrollment status. Recipients were exposed to psychotherapeutic medications at very early ages. Four hundred thirty-nine (83%) had already been treated with some psychotherapeutic medication during their preindex periods. Of these children, 303 (69%) filled at least one prescription for an antipsychotic medication. Index antipsychotic episodes were often lengthy. Mean ± standard deviation and median episode lengths were 266.9 ± 286.8 and 174 days, respectively. During the index periods half of the children were found to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 18% had disruptive behavior disorders. Treatment during these periods included other classes of psychotherapeutic medications for 73% of children. Nearly 30% (29.6%) received two or more classes of medications in addition to antipsychotics.


We found a large group of very young children who were persistently treated with antipsychotic medications. This early and extensive exposure is a cause for concern.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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