American children are approximately three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe. A new study published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioural problems.
Julie Zito led a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands who investigated prescription levels in the three countries. She said, "Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were three or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater".
The use of antidepressants, like Prozac, and stimulants, like Ritalin, in children has been the subject of a great deal of controversy and this study quantifies the differences in practice between the US and Western Europe. The authors claim that the differences may be partly due to different diagnostic classification systems, "The US trend of increasing bipolar diagnosis in children and adolescents does not reflect European practice". The authors also mention government cost restrictions in Europe, the larger number of child psychiatrists per capita in the US and the use of two or more different psychotropic drugs in a single year in US children as possible explanations.
Zito concludes that, "Direct to consumer drug advertising, which is common in the US, is also likely to account for some of the differences. The increased use of medication in the US also reflects the individualist and activist therapeutic mentality of US medical culture".
Notes to Editors
1. A three-country comparison of psychotropic medication prevalence in youth
Julie M Zito, Daniel J Safer, Lolkje TW de Jong-van den Berg, Katrin Janhsen, Joerg M Fegert, James F Gardner, Gerd Glaeske and Satish C Valluri
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health (in press)
During embargo, article available here: http://www.capmh.com/imedia/1013222797195316_article.pdf?random=216141
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.capmh.com/
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy. Article citation and URL available on request at email@example.com on the day of publication
2. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health is an international platform for rapid and comprehensive scientific communication on child and adolescent mental health across different cultural backgrounds. The journal is edited by Jörg M. Fegert.
3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.