Hundreds of thousands more children are taking medications for chronic diseases, with a huge spike over a four-year period in the number given drugs to treat conditions once seen primarily in adults and now linked to what has become an epidemic of childhood obesity.
In a study appearing today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers saw surges in the number of U.S. children taking prescription medicines for diabetes and asthma, with smaller increases in those taking drugs for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. All of those conditions, to varying degrees, have been associated with obesity.
Though doctors have been seeing the trend in their practices, "the rate of rise is what's surprising," said Dr. Donna R. Halloran, a pediatrician at St. Louis University in Missouri and one of the study's authors.
The study found a doubling in the number of children taking medication for type 2 diabetes, with the largest increases seen among pre-teen and teenage girls. The number of asthma prescriptions was up nearly 47 percent.
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