The Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Associated With Psychotropic Drug Use in Children and Adolescents: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis

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Objective: Type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents has become an important public health concern, in parallel with the “epidemic” of overweight/obesity in this age group and a sharp increase in children being prescribed antidepressant or antipsychotic medications. In children and adolescents, the prevalence of being prescribed antidepressant or antipsychotic medications was examined as well as the association of these medications with developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Method: A retrospective cohort design evaluating South Carolina Medicaid medical and pharmacy claims between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2006, was employed to identify 4,070 children and adolescents diagnosed initially with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 39% of whom were later reclassified as type 1 (using ICD-9 criteria). The added risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus posed by the use of antidepressants or antipsychotics was investigated in this cohort, controlling for individual risk factors and comorbid cardiometabolic conditions.

Results: Use of antidepressants or antipsychotics alone, or the 2 in combination, conferred an increased risk (1.3 to 2 times greater) of having diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus and several comorbid cardiometabolic conditions (obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension). However, psychiatric illnesses generally developed and were treated after the initial development of diabetes.

Conclusions: Depression was diagnosed and treated in 10% to 20% of this cohort. While antidepressants and antipsychotics, alone or in combination, are associated with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its cardiometabolic comorbidities by adolescence, they do not appear to be an explanatory factor in the early onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus in this age group and do not appear to cloud the initial, overlapping clinical picture between type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2012;14(1):doi:10.4088/PCC.11m01185

Submitted: March 24, 2011; accepted June 27, 2011.

Published online: January 12, 2012.

Corresponding author: Jeanette M. Jerrell, PhD, Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 3555 Harden St Ext, 15 Medical Park Ste 301, Columbia, SC 29203 (

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2012;14(1):doi:10.4088/PCC.11m01185