We reviewed available pediatric literature on second-generation antipsychotic medications to assess current evidence of efficacy and safety.
An English language MEDLINE search (1974-2003) was conducted using key words-atypical antipsychotics, children and adolescents, toxicity, clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, ziprasidone, and aripiprazole. Additional efficacy and safety data were obtained from drug manufacturers.
We identified 176 reports, including 15 double-blind, controlled trials, 58 openlabel studies, 18 retrospective chart reviews, and 85 case series/reports. The majority of these studies (43%) were of risperidone. Evidence suggests that second-generation antipsychotics are efficacious in the treatment of psychosis, bipolar disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, and Tourette's Disorder, and are potentially useful in mental retardation, conduct disorder, and severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The most frequently reported side effects included cardiovascular effects, weight gain, sedation, sialorrhea, extrapyramidal signs, and hyperprolactinemia, although the relative frequencies of these untoward effects vary among medications.
Although the evidence base for pediatric use of second-generation antipsychotics is expanding, the majority of available studies are anecdotal, or short-term, openlabel trials. Reports suggest that these compounds are effective for a variety of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents, but additional double-blind, controlled studies are required to establish definitive efficacy. Although these medications appear to be well tolerated in short-term studies, long-term follow-up investigations and ongoing clinical monitoring are necessary to confirm their safety in this age group.