First do no harm: promoting an evidence-based approach to atypical antipsychotic use in children and adolescents

J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 May;19(2):124-37.


Objectives: To review the evidence for efficacy and metabolic effects of atypical antipsychotics (AAPs), and to propose a metabolic monitoring protocol for AAP use in children and adolescents.

Methods: A PubMed search was performed to obtain all studies related to efficacy, metabolic side-effects, and monitoring in those less than 18 years of age.

Results: There are no approved indications for AAP use in children and adolescents in Canada. Based on US Food and Drug Administration approvals and a review of randomized controlled trials, we identified 7 indications for AAP use that target specific symptoms in youth including schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, autism, pervasive developmental disorder, disruptive behaviour disorders (including conduct disorder and ADHD), developmental disabilities and Tourette Syndrome. A wide range of metabolic effects including weight gain, increased waist circumference, dysglycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, elevated hepatic transaminases and prolactin levels have been reported. We have developed a proposal for metabolic monitoring that includes anthropometric measurements and laboratory testing at baseline and appropriate intervals thereafter.

Conclusion: There is an urgent need for national clinical practice guidelines that provide, not only appropriate treatment algorithms for AAP-use based on evidence, but also address metabolic monitoring and subsequent management of complications in this vulnerable population.

Keywords: adolescents; atypical antipsychotics; children; efficacy; metabolic; monitoring.