By Edward Opton
Do antipsychotic medications cause diabetes? The evidence has been strong, but prescribers and patients may have held out hopes for a “no” verdict—until now. Publication of a massive meta-analysis, based on more than two million patient-years of data, now seems provide a definitive answer: yes. Antipsychotics cause diabetes.
The new data is available in an article by Dr. Britta Galling, prominent researchers Christoph Correll and Mark Olfson, and 15 other MDs and Ph.D.s in JAMA Psychiatry, published on-line on January 20, 2016.
The researchers scanned the literature, extracted all the relevant studies, and studied data from more than 2,500,000 patient-years of antipsychotic treatment. They found that the incidence of Type 2 diabetes was three times as high for children and youths treated with antipsychotics as in unmedicated “control” subjects.
Drs. Correll, Olfson, and co-authors recommend:
“antipsychotics should only be used when lower-risk interventions have failed . . . and for the shortest necessary duration . . . . routine and proactive monitoring of cardiovascular risk factors should be enforced . . . . Patients and their caregivers . . . need to be informed about possible adverse effects . . . .” (Emphasis supplied.)
As medical prose goes, this is strong stuff. The stern warnings are well-merited. The adverse effects of diabetes include cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, premature death), kidney disease (kidney failure, premature death), eye disease (partial or total blindness), amputation of limbs, depression, neuropathy (including numbness and intractable pain), sexual dysfunctions (including impotence), complications in pregnancy, and substantially reduced life expectancy, i.e., premature death. (See, e.g., Diabetes in the UK: Key Statistics on Diabetes, p. 2 (2010).)
The larger issue for child welfare administrators, for caseworkers, for foster parents, and for physicians is: what are the benefits for the child of antipsychotics? Are they worth the risks? This blog has readers who are child welfare administrators, caseworkers, foster parents, and physicians. Let us know what you think.
Our e-mail address: eopton[“at”] youthlaw[dot]org.