Psychiatric disorders are strikingly prevalent among young children covered by Medicaid — as are psychiatric medications, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics. They analyzed data from more than 35,000 kids born in 2007 and enrolled in one state’s Medicaid program. Here’s what they found:
- By age 8, nearly 20 percent of kids had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Roughly 44 percent of diagnoses were ADHD and 32 percent were learning disorders. Diagnoses were far more common among kids in foster care, 59 percent of whom had a psychiatric disorder.
- Roughly 10 percent of kids were taking a psychiatric drug by age 8. Of those, 75 percent had been prescribed a stimulant, 32 percent an alpha agonist, and 20 percent an anxiolytic or hypnotic. Many of those drugs haven’t been approved specifically for use in children.
- This is claims data from one state, so the findings don’t apply broadly to other states or to kids who aren’t insured by Medicaid.
Source: STAT: Morning Rounds