Clinical characteristics of children receiving antipsychotic medication

This study explored the demographic and diagnostic features of children who were currently receiving antipsychotics compared to children who were receiving other psychotropics in a cohort of children with and without elevated symptoms of mania (ESM). Participants were recruited from 10 child outpatient mental health clinics associated with four universities. Guardians with children between 6-12 years who presented for new clinical evaluations completed the Parent General Behavior Inventory-10 Item Mania Scale (PGBI-10M). All children who scored ≥12 on the PGBI-10M and a select demographically matched comparison group of patients who scored ≤11 were invited to participate. Children were divided into two groups: those receiving at least one antipsychotic medication and those receiving other psychotropic medications. The groups were compared on demographics, diagnoses, psychiatric symptoms, functioning, and past hospitalizations. Of the 707 children enrolled in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study, 443 (63%) were prescribed psychotropic medication at baseline: 157 (35%) were receiving an antipsychotic and 286 (65%) were prescribed other agents. Multivariate results indicated that being prescribed antipsychotics was related to being white, previous hospitalization, having a psychotic or bipolar 1 disorder and the site where the child was receiving services (p<0.001). In this sample, it is relatively common for a child to be prescribed an antipsychotic medication. However, the only diagnoses associated with a greater likelihood of being treated with an antipsychotic were psychotic disorders or unmodified DSM-IV bipolar 1 disorder.