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3,000 children were given unlicensed anti-psychotic drugs despite safety fears
April 7, 2008
By Ben Quinn
The number of British children being given controversial anti-psychotic drugs has increased sharply, according to research.
As many as 3,000 children were administered the unlicensed drugs between 1996 and 2005, despite concerns from experts that they could cause long-term harm and even death.
Doctors gave out twice as many prescriptions for the medication in 2005 as in 1992, even though they are not licensed to be given to children.
The number of prescriptions for children in the 7 to 12 age group trebled, the largest area of expansion, according to findings by Ian Wong, a Professor of Paediatric Medicines Research at the London School of Pharmacy.
In most cases, the drugs have been given to children with behavioural and personality disorders, autism and hyperactivity.
The research is to be published in the US journal Pediatrics next month. David Healy, Professor of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University gave warning that the drugs could cause heart, circulatory and breathing problems.
"There is a real question over whether the drugs can kill, for a number of reasons," he told The Guardian. "One is that all anti-psychotics act on the \ dopamine." Professor Healy said that dopamine was known to have a role in cardiovascular regulation.