Diabetes in Adolescents Linked to Antipsychotics


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As the prevalence of diabetes around the world rises, more researchers are turning their attention to the disease and its possible causes. Some medical researchers are focusing their efforts on juvenile diabetes, research that may help to curb rising diagnoses of type 2 diabetes among adolescents.

A new study published in this month's issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found a peculiar link between diabetes and commonly used psychiatric drugs. Researchers at the Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark have uncovered what appears to be a link between type 2 diabetes and antipsychotics.

The study found that adolescents diagnosed with psychiatric disorders were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they were also prescribed antipsychotic drugs. The risk of developing diabetes in children who were prescribed antipsychotic drugs was found to be 0.72 percent. This compares to just a 0.27 percent chance of developing diabetes for children who were diagnosed with a psychiatric condition but not exposed to antipsychotics. The type of psychiatric condition the children were diagnosed with was found to have no impact on their risk of developing diabetes.

The study looked at 48,299 Danish youth who were diagnosed with psychiatric conditions between 1999 and 2010.

The study's authors believe their findings raise concerns about the use of antipsychotic drugs for non-psychiatric conditions, such as behavioral disorders. They advocate only prescribing antipsychotics to adolescents when other treatment options have been exhausted. The researchers also suggest that cardiometabolic monitoring should be standard when prescribing antipsychotics for adolescents, including fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1C testing.

"The use of antipsychotic drug treatment can be necessary for some of the psychiatric disorders diagnosed in children and adolescents," said Dr. Rene Ernst Nielsen, lead author of the study and a psychiatry researcher at Aalborg University Hospital. "This study underscores the importance of following the current guidelines that antipsychotics should only be used in children and adolescents when other evidence-based and safer treatment options have been exhausted."