Children in foster care are given major tranquilizers as often as severely mentally disabled kids, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The drugs include Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa – all initially developed to treat schizophrenia but now used for a variety of psychiatric symptoms.
In the study, some 17,000 foster children were taking at least one antipsychotic. Over 9 percent of them got two or more of the drugs. Researchers say these powerful psychiatric drugs are being used to treat behavior problems in foster kids.
“The kids in foster care may come from bad homes, but they do not have the sort of complex medical issues that those in the disabled population do,” said lead author Susan dosReis, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
“There’s enormous anguish because everyone knows that this is not what we should be doing for these kids,” said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, a mental health services researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. “We as a society haven’t made the investment in psychosocial treatments, and so we are forced to rely on psychotropic drugs to carry the burden.”