Young children and adolescents who take the newest generation of antipsychotic medications risk rapid weight gain and metabolic changes that could lead to diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses, according to the biggest study yet of first-time users of the drugs.
The study, to be published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 257 young children and adolescents in New York City and on Long Island added 8 to 15 percent to their weight after taking the pills for less than 12 weeks.
The patients, ages 4 to 19, added an average of one to one-and-a-half pounds a week.
“The degree of weight gain is alarming,” said Dr. Wayne K. Goodman, head of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on the drugs last summer and chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. “The magnitude is stunning,” he said.
Although the drugs’ influence on weight and metabolism had been previously detected, Dr. Goodman, who was not involved in the study, said the speed and magnitude of the effects found in the study were greater than previously reported — findings he said were made possible by looking exclusively at new patients.
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