Wed Nov 7, 2007
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. girls taking diabetes drugs more than doubled between 2002 and 2005, almost certainly because of rising obesity, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Children of all ages are increasingly taking drugs originally formulated to treat adults with illnesses often caused by years of eating too much and exercising too little, the researchers told a meeting of the American Public Health Association.
They saw a 166 percent increase in type-2 diabetes prescriptions among girls aged 10 to 14 and a 135 percent increase among teenage girls 15 and above.
More U.S. children and teens also used blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma and depression medications, the teams at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc said.
“Across every chronic medication class we examined over this four-year period of time, children’s use increased, with varying patterns of growth across males and females and age groups,” Emily Cox, senior director of research at Express Scripts, said in a statement.
The researchers looked at the prescription drug records of 3.5 million children with private health insurance between 2002 and 2005.
They found big increases in the use of drugs associated with heart disease and type-2 diabetes, both of which are linked with obesity.
Type-2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, once rarely or never occurred in children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is not possible to calculate how many U.S. children have type-2 diabetes but says the number is rising.
The CDC estimates that 16 percent of U.S. children are overweight.
The Express Scripts and Saint Louis University researchers also found the use of high blood pressure drugs rose by 15 percent among boys aged 15 to 19, while the number of girls using such drugs dropped by 1.6 percent.
Teenagers are also taking more antidepressants — the number of girls aged 15 to 19 taking an antidepressant rose 6.8 percent between 2002 and 2005.
More children are also using asthma medications, the survey found. They found a 67 percent increase in the number of 5- to 9-year-olds using asthma drugs and a nearly 39 percent rise among 10- to 14-year-olds.