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Study: Diabetes risk for young people on atypical antipsychotics

For those living with a mental illness, taking an atypical antipsychotic is a regular part of their day. Most even look to these prescribed medications to maintain or improve their quality of life. However, a recent study points to the fact that there are health risks associated with many of these needed medications. 

The study, which was published last month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, reviewed the medical records of 43,400 people between the ages of 6 to 24. These medical records were all from 1996 through 2007. All of the study participants were in the Medicaid program.

Of those included in the study, 29,000 were taking an atypical antipsychotic, like Risperdal, Zyprexa or Seroquel. The other 14,400 were taking another type of psychiatric drug. 

According to the results of the study, those taking the atypical antipsychotics were three times more likely to end up developing Type 2 diabetes than those taking the others types of psychiatric medications. 

For those currently on an atypical antipsychotic, it is important to continue taking the medications. Even after learning about this heightened risk for Type 2 diabetes, medications treating mental illness should not be changed without being under the advisement of a doctor. 

In general, when prescribing medications, children should be monitored for any predispositions to diabetes. Doctors should also be prescribing out the lowest -- yet still effective -- dosage.

Looking to the future though, the hope is more doctors will take this heightened risk for Type 2 diabetes among young people seriously when prescribing out medications. This could result in doctors prescribing more alternatives when possible.

Source: DisabilityScoop.com, “Study Finds Antipsychotics Triple Diabetes Risk,” Shaun Heasley, Aug. 27, 2013

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