I’ve written about this topic before and I’ll probably continue to do so because it’s a subject close to my heart. The topic has to do with children, health, and medication.
A new study published in the November American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) journal shows that more American children (ages 5 to 19) are taking drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, and other conditions than ever before. Specifically, the prevalence rate for type 2 anti-diabetic agents among children doubled between 2002 and 2005. Use of anti-hyperlipidemics went up 15% during the same period. And anti-hypertension therapies went up 2%, with girls having much higher use rates than boys.
Researchers concluded that the trends in prescription therapy might have to do with more doctors handing out prescriptions (The 1997 FDA Modernization Act and pediatric rule has encouraged the study of effects of medicines in adolescents). Another reason behind the trend may be the increase in childhood obesity, which can lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and poor cholesterol levels. Indeed, the increase of childhood obesity has been on the rise for some time as has the incidence of and treatment of asthma, depression, and ADD/ADHD in children.
“Ten or 15 years ago we weren’t even discussing these conditions, which were mainly in adults,” Emily Cox, a senior director of research at Express Scripts, said in a Bloomberg article about the AAP study. “Now, we are seeing a growing number of children being treated for chronic conditions that they are going to take into adulthood.”
Another report that came out in September from HealthDay News discussed how more children—4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds—are developing kidney stones. The possible causes—poor diet (especially high-salt diets), sedentary lifestyles, and again, childhood obesity.
As a relatively new mom, I admit I’m more prone to being scared or anxious about anything that might possibly go wrong with my child, or any child for that matter. Keeping a careful eye on what kids eat and how much exercise they get is becoming more and more crucial. The bottom line is that, even in our busy, hectic lives, we need to do more as parents, as doctors, as researchers, and as drugmakers to reverse this trend and keep the next generation healthy.