West Texas Medical Experts Say That Perscription Drug May Have Killed Max Shatto

Date: 2013-02-20

By: Jenne Anderson

GARDENDALE-- The death of 3 year-old Max Shatto is making headlines all over the world.

Russian officials claim the boy's adoptive parents, Laura and Allen Shatto from Gardendale, are to blame.

Although the autopsy results are not in, several international media outlets say Max was given Risperdal, which is used to treat schizophrenia.

While the medication may seem too harsh for a toddler, local medical experts say it's not unusual of to see it prescribed to children.

"Risperdal was one of the earlier medications that was approved by the FDA to be administered in children," explained Odessa Psychiatrist Shanthi Thangam.

Dr. Thangam says in her 14 years practicing she's only seen a handful of kids suffer from early onset schizophrenia.

But she also tells us Risperdal is commonly used to treat other mood disorders.

"These medications are a lot of times not just used for schizophrenia," said Dr. Thangam. "They are commonly used in autism spectrum disorders."

While the drug is FDA approved for kids, it's not given out without an intimidating list of side effects.

"Multiple side effects are there," stated Dr. Thangam. "For example, sudden death is a symptom that's reported with many of these medications."

A recent study done by HealthMe shows that since 1997, 40,000 people reported side effects from taking Risperdal.

And out of that number, 1,400 died after taking the drug.

"Extreme caution has to be used," said Dr. Thangam. "A total medical screening has to be done. Children have to be monitored very carefully."

We spoke with the pharmaceutical company that makes Risperdal.

They did not answer any questions in regards to sudden death from taking the drug, but they did confirm that it can be given to children.

Although the drug may explain the boy's cause of death, one thing it doesn't resolve are the bruises that were found on Max's body.

Dr. Shanthi tells us Risperdal is not known to cause bruising, however she says if Max suffered from a mood disorder it's possible that he could have hurt himself.

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