Study: High Use of Psychiatric Drugs in Children With Autism

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to examine rates and predictors of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy among commercially insured children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

METHODS: This retrospective observational study used administrative medical and pharmacy claims data linked with health plan enrollment and sociodemographic information from 2001 to 2009. Children with ASD were identified by using a validated ASD case algorithm. Psychotropic polypharmacy was defined as concurrent medication fills across $2 classes for at least 30 days. Multinomial logistic regression was used to model 5 categories of psychotropic use and multiclass polypharmacy.

RESULTS: Among 33,565 children with ASD, 64% had a filled prescription for at least 1 psychotropic medication, 35% had evidence of psychotropic polypharmacy ($2 classes), and 15% used medications from $3 classes concurrently. Among children with polypharmacy, the median length of polypharmacy was 346 days. Older children, those who had a psychiatrist visit, and those with evidence of cooccurring conditions (seizures, attention-deficit disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression) had higher odds of psychotropic
use and/or polypharmacy.

View the full study to learn more about psychotropic medication use in children with autism spectrum disorders.

 

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