Psychotropic drug use among Icelandic children: a nationwide population-based study

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2009 Dec;19(6):757-64. doi: 10.1089/cap.2009.0003.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate psychotropic drug use among children in Iceland between 2003 and 2007.

Methods: A nationwide population-based drug use study covering the total pediatric population (ages 0-17) in Iceland. Information was obtained from the National Medicines Registry to calculate prevalence of use by year and psychotropic drug group; incidence by year, psychotropic drug group, child's age and sex, and medical specialty of prescriber; the most commonly used psychotropic chemical substances, off-label and unlicensed use and concomitant psychotropic drug use.

Results: The overall prevalence of psychotropic drug use was 48.7 per 1000 Icelandic children in 2007. Stimulants and antidepressants increased in prevalence from 2003 to 2007 and were the two most prevalent psychotropic drug groups, respectively, 28.4 and 23.4 per 1000 children in 2007. A statistically significant trend of declining prevalence (p = 0.00013) and incidence (p = 0.0018) of antidepressant use occurred during the study period. Out of 21,986 psychotropic drugs dispensed in 2007, 25.4% were used off-label.

Conclusions: With reference to reports from other European countries, the results indicate extensive psychotropic drug use among children in Iceland between 2003 and 2007. Further scrutiny is needed to assess the rationale behind this widespread use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Off-Label Use / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Sex Factors


  • Psychotropic Drugs