Antipsychotic Drugs + Children = Type II Diabetes?

antipsychotics children diabetes

Do Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Abilify Cause Diabetes in Young Kids Taking These Drugs?

Antipsychotic drugs are a type of prescription medication used to treat mental disorders. A number of studies have found that children who take antipsychotic and/or second-generation antipsychotic drugs (Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Abilify) have an increased risk of developing type II diabetes.

In the past, antipsychotic drugs were used to treat major psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and were considered heavy tranquilizers. Now, pediatric doctors have been permitted by the FDA to prescribe and treat children with conditions such as aggression, autism, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with the same types of antipsychotic drugs. Research has shown that antipsychotic drugs (Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel) in adolescents have increased by more than four times.

What the Studies Show  

A study conducted by Vanderbilt University focused on 28,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 to 24. The research indicated that within the first year of a child taking the prescription drugs, his or her risk for type II diabetes was almost immediately present. The study also indicated that the risk of type II diabetes continues for up to one year even after a child stops taking the medication.

Originally known as adult-onset diabetes, type II diabetes is a medical condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin – a hormone that aids in regulating carbohydrates and fats in the body. Type II diabetes in children is increasing at an epidemic rate and can be extremely difficult and expensive to treat.

Canadian Journal of Psychiatry Study

In a 2009 study from the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, it was indicated that children who are treated with second-generation antipsychotic drugs (SGAs) are at a greater risk of morbidity carried into adulthood. The study found that the average body mass index (a method of measurement to determine a person’s fat percentage), obesity rate, and diagnosis of type II diabetes was significantly higher in those who are treated with an SGA than those who are not.

Human Psychopharmacology Journal Study

An additional study that was published in the Human Psychopharmacology Journal in 2008 also found that the chances of experiencing excessive weight gain and/or being diagnosed with type II diabetes are higher for not only adolescents but for females and those who are taking one or more antipsychotic medications.

What Did AstraZeneca Know with Seroquel?

An AstraZeneca discussion document dated June 22, 2000,and written by Dr. Wayne Geller, AstraZeneca’s Global Safety Director, cited dozens of cases in which “diabetes mellitus, hyperglycaemia, diabetic ketoacidosis… were reported with Seroquel.”  Dr. Geller made the obvious conclusion: “While there were no reports of positive dechallenges and rechallenges, consideration should be given to the suggestion that Seroqeul therapy may cause impaired glucose regulation including diabetes mellitus in certain individuals.”

Increased Appetite and Antipsychotics

Why does this happen?  The answer is surprisingly simple.  A common side effect of such antipsychotic drugs is an increased appetite, which can undoubtedly lead to an increased food intake. This can put the body at risk for not only an undesired increase in body weight but could create insulin resistance. The common weight gain for those taking antipsychotics can range between 20 to 30 pounds. This type of weight gain can prompt diabetes, which could cause serious health problems such as kidney failure and hypertension.

Will This Litigation Take Off?

Let’s be honest: the results of mass tort cases involving diabetes have gotten mixed results for plaintiffs.  That is probably generous.  One of the drugs on the firing line again, Seroquel, was one of the drugs that lead to thousands of lawsuits.  These cases resulted in settlements – but very poor ones – for plaintiffs.

This one might be different.  Why? Kids are involved.  There is no reason why kids this young should get type II diabetes in such massive numbers.


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