Antipsychotics Triple the Risk of Diabetes in Children and Youth


Researchers from Vanderbilt and Columbia Universities and the FDA find that, through a retrospective cohort study of 28,858 patients of the Tennessee Medicaid program (and 14,429 controls), that children and youth exposed to antipsychotics had a 3-fold risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the first year of follow-up. The risk increased with cumulative dose, and remained elevated for one year following discontinuation. Results appeared online yesterday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Article →

Bobo, W., Cooper, W., Stein, M., Olfson, M., et al; Antipsychotics and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Children and Youth. JAMA Psychiatry. Online August 21, 2013

Of further interest:
Antipsychotic Medications Lead To Diabetes In Adolescents: Study (Pentagon Post)
Antipsychotic drugs raise diabetes risk for young people, Vanderbilt study shows (The Tennessean)
Antipsychotics triple risk of type 2 diabetes in young people (Clinical Psychiatry News)
Antipsychotic drug use in children for mood, behavior disorders increases type 2 diabetes risk (Medical Xpress)
Antipsychotic Drugs May Triple Kids’ Diabetes Risk (Web MD)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Developing Type-2 Diabetes is no small problem, especially when it comes to children and youth. There are *complications* that may often result from the diabetes.

    This is a must-read for NAMI members (an organization that continues to promote the use of these drugs for kids).

    From the Mayo Clinic:

    Type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when you’re feeling fine. But diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent these complications.

    Although long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually, they can eventually be disabling or even life-threatening. Some of the potential complications of diabetes include:

    Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure.

    The risk of stroke is two to four times higher for people with diabetes, and the death rate from heart disease is two to four times higher for people with diabetes than for people without the disease, according to the American Heart Association.

    Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Poorly controlled blood sugar can eventually cause you to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.

    For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.

    Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.

    Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

    Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections. Severe damage might require toe, foot or even leg amputation.

    Skin and mouth conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Gum infections also may be a concern, especially if you have a history of poor dental hygiene.

    Osteoporosis. Diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.

    Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. So what connects the two conditions? One theory is that cardiovascular problems caused by diabetes could contribute to dementia by blocking blood flow to the brain or causing strokes. Other possibilities are that too much insulin in the blood leads to brain-damaging inflammation, or lack of insulin in the brain deprives brain cells of glucose.

    Hearing problems. Diabetes can also lead to hearing impairment.

    … Which is why I like to say, “Friends don’t let friends join NAMI.”

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

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