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J Autism Dev Disord. 2017 Jan;47(1):144-154. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2946-7.

Psychotropic Medication Use among Insured Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacy and Health Systems Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue R218X TF, Boston, MA, 02115, USA. j.madden@northeastern.edu.
2
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA. j.madden@northeastern.edu.
3
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
4
The Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR, USA.
5
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
6
School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
7
Kaiser Permanente Georgia, Center for Clinical and Outcomes Research, Atlanta, GA, USA.
8
Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, CA, USA.
9
Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, CA, USA.
10
McKesson Corporation, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract

This study examined psychotropic medication use among 7901 children aged 1-17 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in five health systems, comparing to matched cohorts with no ASD. Nearly half (48.5 %) of children with ASD received psychotropics in the year observed; the most common classes were stimulants, alpha-agonists, or atomoxetine (30.2 %), antipsychotics (20.5 %), and antidepressants (17.8 %). Psychotropic treatment was far more prevalent among children with ASD, as compared to children with no ASD (7.7 % overall), even within strata defined by the presence or absence of other psychiatric diagnoses. The widespread use of psychotropics we observed, particularly given weak evidence supporting the effectiveness of these medications for most children with ASD, highlights challenges in ASD treatment and the need for greater investment in its evaluation.

KEYWORDS:

Antipsychotics; Autism spectrum disorder; Comorbidities; Epidemiological studies; Medications

PMID:
27817163
PMCID:
PMC5328123
DOI:
10.1007/s10803-016-2946-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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