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Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan: 30% of doctors give psychotropics to kids with disorders

Nearly three out of 10 pediatric specialists have prescribed psychotropic medication to preschoolers with developmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a health ministry survey.

Conducted last fall by a ministry research group, the survey also found that more than half of the doctors who responded have prescribed drugs such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills to children up to second grade in elementary school.

It was the first such survey on prescribing such drugs to children.

Eiji Nakagawa, head of pediatric neurology at the National Center Hospital of the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Kodaira, Tokyo, warned of the need to examine the long-term effects of psychotropic medication on children.

"The potential impact on patients' minds and physical growth arising from the continued use of such medication from an early age has not been examined, although some medication has a direct impact on neurotransmitters and hormonal secretion," said Nakagawa, who conducted the poll. (read more)