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Treatment Challenges and Safety Considerations for Antipsychotic Use in Children and Adolescents With Psychoses

Brian J. McConville, MD, and Michael T. Sorter, MD

Published: April 1, 2004

Article Abstract

With increased prescribing of psychotropic medications to children and adolescents, more attentionshould be given to the safety and tolerability of these drugs in this population. Compared withadults, children are especially vulnerable to adverse effects, including extrapyramidal symptoms(EPS), sedation, weight gain, and prolactin elevation. The prevalence of EPS is much higher in childrentreated with conventional antipsychotics than in those given atypical antipsychotics. Sedation,which can be minimized through gradual dose escalation, is common with risperidone, olanzapine,quetiapine, and ziprasidone. The relative propensities for producing weight gain in children and adolescentsare olanzapine > risperidone > quetiapine. All conventional and some atypical antipsychotics(e.g., risperidone) increase serum prolactin levels. Nonetheless, preclinical studies suggest that atypicalantipsychotics may have neuroprotective effects in the central nervous system; further studies,especially in children and adolescents, are required to confirm these results.

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