Why Are So Many 2-Year-Olds on Antipsychotic Drugs?

It's not just doctors armed with prescription pads and itchy trigger fingers.

When children run around like crazy, it’s not a big deal right? Don’t we commonly say that kids will just be kids? Many may agree with that position, but it looks like not everyone does. The New York Times broke the news last week that, in 2014 alone, approximately 20,000 prescriptions for antipsychotics were made out to children under the age of two.


If that sounds shocking, you’re not the only one. Antipsychotic drugs generally aren’t tested for use on children, nor do they come with usage instructions for such a young population. Some speculate that not all of the prescriptions made out were meant for children. In some cases, they might have been actually intended for an uninsured or underinsured parent, for instance. But at least some of the prescriptions were meant for toddlers with behaviors that parents and/or doctors deemed unhealthy or aggressive.

Below, psychiatrist Julie Holland delves into the dangers of overmedication: 


The 20,000 prescriptions made out in 2014 represent a 50 percent rise from the year before. But before we go demonizing the parents and doctors that give these powerful drugs to youngsters, it’s helpful to understand the circumstances that encourage them to do so in the first place.

In a world in which both parents work and affordable childcare is a scarce commodity, parents are panicked about what to do with young children who remain severely withdrawn or who consistently act out in ways daycare providers can’t handle. Parents need their children to “behave” in order to be able to focus on making the money that keeps them afloat.

Medicating for behavioral issues at two years old is far too early to be introducing such powerful drugs to young and changing minds. One can only hope this trend wanes, and other kinds of healthier support become available to those parents struggling with their children’s behavior.

If we had more flexible work policies, guaranteed leave, and better access to childcare in the U.S., perhaps we would see this disturbing statistic reverse itself for good.

Image: Uncleraf/Shutterstock

--


**

Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors.  Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less