Heavily Medicated Kids in Foster Care Reaching Alarming Numbers?

December 18, 2011 / mentalhealthnewstoday.com

A study made in the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) describes that kids in Medicaid foster care are taking antipsychotics and antidepressants at a higher rate compared to other children in government care. The federal office is raising concern to lawmakers and experts that the children might be receiving too much medication, even if they don’t need it.  

Foster children are considered under the supervision of the state, and are placed in homes of carefully selected caregivers (termed as foster parents) on a short-term basis until a more permanent solution can be done. In addition, a lot of foster children who are receiving psychotropic drug treatment are using five or more different drugs at the same time. According to GAO, most commonly prescribed drugs include antipsychotics Abilify and Risperdal, antidepressants Cymbalta and Paxil and ADHD drugs Ritalin and Strattera.

GAO estimates that foster children in Medicaid are 2.7-4.5 times more likely to receive psychotropics. These children are often a product of grave family dysfunction; having experienced parental divorce, abuse (physical, mental or sexual), neglect and exploitation. The result, most of these children have emotional and mental problems. However, overmedicating them with drugs will not help them recover from their experiences, said medical experts, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions should be tried as well.

Though GAO clearly states that foster children clearly need more mental health care, senior officials said that there is no good study that supports use of multi-psychotropic drugs in treating mental issues. In addition, needless use of drugs might cause more problems because they exert effect on developing brain, making young people particularly vulnerable.


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