Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare longitudinal data on drug utilization between 10-year-old children and 15-year-old adolescents and to analyse the association of drug use at the age of 15 years with drug use at the age of 10 years.
Methods: Based on the German GINIplus (German infant study on the Influence of Nutrition Intervention plus environmental and genetic influences on allergy development) and LISAplus (Influence of lifestyle factors on the immune system and allergies in East and West Germany plus the influence of traffic emissions and genetics) birth cohorts, data on drug utilization (past 4 weeks) were collected using a self-administered questionnaire for 3642 children (10-year follow-up) and 4677 adolescents (15-year follow-up). The drugs were classified by therapeutic categories (conventional drugs, homeopathic drugs, etc.) and by codes according to the anatomical therapeutic chemical (ATC) classification system. Associations of adolescents' drug use with gender, study area, maternal education, parental income, presence of chronic conditions, and prior drug use at the age of 10 years were analysed using a logistic regression model.
Results: The 4-week prevalence rates of overall drug use were similar for adolescents (41.1%) and children (42.3%). However, adolescents used noticeably more anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, and systemic antihistamines. Exactly 3194 children/adolescents participated in both follow-ups. Adolescents' use of anti-inflammatory drugs was predicted (OR = 3.37) by use of anti-inflammatory drugs as a child. In summary, the strongest predictor of adolescents' use of specific therapeutic categories or ATC groups was the previous use of the same therapeutic drug category or ATC group as a 10-year-old child.
Conclusions: Despite similar prevalence rates of overall drug utilization among both age groups, there is a noticeable difference concerning the use of drugs from specific ATC groups. Drug use as a child may partly determine what they use as an adolescent.
Keywords: Adolescent; Anti-inflammatory drugs; Child; Drug utilization; Germany; Longitudinal study.