Children with behavioral and mental health conditions often fall victim to polypharmacy, the use of multiple medications at one time.
In Renae Smith’s case, which was profiled by The New York Times, she was prescribed 10 psychotropic medications while she was still in high school.
One systematic review found that up to 87% of children and youth with autism are prescribed two or more medications simultaneously.
From 2006 to 2015, prescriptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications among patients aged 2 to 24 years increased from 4.8% to 8.4%, while the percentage of those who were prescribed a drug for ADHD as well as at least one other medication rose from 26% to 40.7%.
Overprescribing pills is ultimately setting up children for a downward spiral of increasing side effects and worsening health, without addressing their health conditions.