The underlying cause of how we got here appears twofold.
First, was the arrival of the class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics. They were thought to be safer, with fewer serious side effects than older drugs commonly prescribed for more serious cases of psychosis and schizophrenia.
Second, has been the marked increase - dating back to the 1990’s - of prescribing antipsychotics such as Zyprexa Olanzapine to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as aggressive behavior. Today, according to The Tennessean (8/22/13), prescriptions for the latter far outweigh in number and scope those prescribed to treat more serious psychosis.
This includes prescriptions to treat ADHD and other behavioral problems in children and youth - exacerbated by parents who push their family physicians to prescribe atypical antipsychotics for otherwise healthy children in order to take advantage of an atypical’s capacity to increase focus. The child may not have ADHD at all. But the parent sees medication as a pathway to higher grades, and a more prestigious university.
But in so doing, they may be putting their children at risk for Zyprexa diabetes and diabetic symptoms associated with other drugs in the class.
An exhaustive study by researchers at Vanderbilt University and published in JAMA Psychiatry (10/13) concluded that patients prescribed antipsychotics such as Zyprexa presented with a threefold increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes when compared with those who took other medications available to treat similar disorders. What’s more, researchers found that the increased risk for Zyprexa and diabetes was present within the first year of treatment, but also within a year after treatment was stopped.
Zyprexa side effects also include the packing on of pounds. “Weight gain certainly does increase the risk of type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Wayne A. Ray, a Vanderbilt University professor of preventive medicine and co-author of the study, in comments published in The Tennessean. “Antipsychotic users certainly gain weight, including children. Antipsychotics also affect metabolism in a way that may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. For instance, they affect insulin resistance, which is another factor in type 2 diabetes.”
The study, “Antipsychotics and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Children and Youth,” compared 28,858 children and youths prescribed these antipsychotics against 14,429 others who took different drugs. The 14,429 selected for the control group closely matched their profile, Ray said. “We found the risk was increased in the first year of use.
“That’s important because some might believe that a chronic disease like diabetes would only develop with long-term use.”
The Tennessean reported that type 2 diabetes is appearing with greater frequency amongst children and youth in Tennessee. And while weight gain does not cause diabetes, packing on the pounds can trigger diabetes in those individuals with a genetic disposition to the disease. It can lead to serious complications, including blindness and kidney failure.
Weight gain is usually a greater issue with middle-aged adults, who inadvertently wander into a perfect storm of sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and a slowing of their metabolism, which combines for weight gain. However, drugs can trigger diabetes in otherwise healthy, active adults.
And now Zyprexa diabetes is showing up in children with increasing frequency. It is interesting to note that at one time, type 2 diabetes was once known as adult-onset diabetes.
“Weight gain certainly does increase the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Ray said.
“Antipsychotic users certainly gain weight, including children. Antipsychotics also affect metabolism in a way that may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. For instance, they affect insulin resistance, which is another factor in type 2 diabetes.
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The Vanderbilt study benefited from the assistance of some expert partners, including researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Columbia University, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Results were compiled from computerized Medicaid records linked with hospital discharge information matched with birth certificates over an 11-year period ending December 31, 2007. Nearly half of Tennesseans younger than 18 are on TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
Parents of a child or youth suddenly facing the early onset of type 2 diabetes and a lifetime of health struggles would be forgiven for consulting a Zyprexa lawyer.