Research findings published in Psychiatric Services suggest antipsychotic drugs among Medicaid-insured children were prescribed five times more often than for children with private insurance from 1997 to 2006, as reported by MSN.
Researchers said this disparity should be examined more closely, particularly because these drugs were often prescribed for off-label use.
Study author Julie Zito said "many [of the children] were diagnosed with behavioral rather than psychotic conditions for which [these drugs] have FDA-approved labeling."
For the study, the researchers examined the use of antipsychotic drugs among 500 000 children ranging in age from 2 to 17.
Children with low family income participating in the state Children's Health Insurance Program or those with very low income in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families assistance program had the most significant increase in antipsychotic medication use.
Less change occurred in the use of these drugs among the most vulnerable children, such as those in foster care or those with disabilities in the Supplemental Security Income program.