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Mixing Mental Medications & The Effects on Kids

The most common drugs prescribed to children these days are for attention deficit disorder. But some say combining these with other stimulants is a cause for concern.

In our big story this half-hour GTN's Briana Harper looks into research to help identify harmful combinations - to keep kids safe.

Forty percent of children with ADHD also have anxiety disorders. And with this combination of mental health conditions comes multiple drug treatments. UF pharmacy professor Almut Winterstein's research is looking into whether this poly-pharmacy trend could be good or bad. "There is very little evidence about the safety of these medications as well as the advocacy for that matter and we felt it's a good way to move forward and start to see what kind of combinations are used more frequently, what is the underlying evidence if they are used together does this really work."

Initial studies show children prescribed psychotropic drugs at an earlier age are more prone to multiple mental drug treatments in the future. But one family psychiatrist says more drugs isn't always bad. "Sometime some medications can have much more activity on the brain than maybe two or three medications that are being prescribed in combination."

Dr. Winterstein's research includes data from nearly 30 states across the country including Florida. She says this allows for broader comparisons of psychotropic drug treatments in a variety of children.

The study not only focuses on the number of mental drugs used-- but foreseeing the effects of a bad combination. "Calls up physicians and brings to their attention that sometime there may be some combinations that really don't make sense." In addition to ADHD treatments the study will also focus on many other disorders to identify where the biggest risks lie. Briana Harper, GTN News.

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