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Originally published September 28 2010

Huge rise in prescription drug use among children

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The use of long-term prescription drugs by children has increased four times faster among children in the past decade than among the general population, according to a report by Medco Health Solutions.

More than 25 percent of all children, including almost 30 percent of those between the ages of 10 and 19, are now taking at least one prescription drug for a chronic condition. And while rates of some diseases associated with children, such as asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have indeed increased, most of the effect is driven by conditions typically considered "adult" diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

"What's surprising is the type of drugs these kids are taking. All these adult drugs are popping up in children, which is really disturbing," said Medco's Robert Epstein.

The use of type 2 diabetes drugs in children increased 5.3 percent in 2009, with a total increase of 150 percent since 2001. Among girls between the ages of 10 and 19, the increase was more than 200 percent. Use of cholesterol-lowering drugs increased 50 percent over the same time period, while use of blood pressure drugs increased 24 percent and use of acid reflux drugs increased 147 percent.

"The obesity problem is contributing not just to diabetes but to a lot of other problems," Epstein said.

"We've got to get our arms around some very fast lifestyle modification or we're going to have a real problem, having these adult illnesses show up in children who will have a changing life expectancy if they're going to be sick from a very young age."

The use of antipsychotics in children doubled between 2001 and 2010, but the use of antidepressants actually dropped after reports of increased suicide risk emerged in 2004.

While overall use of ADHD drugs did increase 9.1 percent in 2009, the major area of growth was not among children, as might be expected. Instead, the drugs became more popular among adults between the ages of 20 and 34, with a 21.2 percent increase in prescriptions.

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