1 in 12 kids on prescription drugs at risk of meds interaction

prescription drugs
Child medicine

Girls are more likely to experience drug-drug interaction, study finds

Advances in medical science have changed human development indices in many ways. It has also meant that kids these days have way more medicines than earlier, some of them prescription drugs.

According to new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago, about one in five children regularly use prescription medications. Nearly one in 12 of those children are at risk for experiencing a harmful drug-drug interaction.

The findings from the study, have been published in the journal Pediatrics. They indicate that adolescent girls are at highest risk of potential adverse events due to drug-drug interactions, or DDIs.

Researchers retrospectively analyzed medication use patterns of more than 23,000 children and adolescents living in the U.S. based on data collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2014.

Nearly 20 percent of children had used at least one prescription medication. Nearly 14 percent used chronic medications

They found that nearly 20 percent of children had used at least one prescription medication. Nearly 14 percent used chronic medications and 7 percent used acute medications.

Chronic medication use was defined as taking at least one prescription medication for more than 30 days and acute medication as taking at least one for medication for less than 30 days.

Analysis also showed that medication use increased with age, from 14 percent in children younger than 5 years to 22 percent in adolescents 13 to 19 years.

The most common medications were respiratory agents and psychotherapeutic agents. Respiratory agents, used primarily in the management of asthma, included bronchodilators and leukotriene modifiers. Psychotherapeutic agents included CNS stimulants and antidepressants, which are associated with rare but serious adverse effects like thoughts of suicide, serotonin syndrome and even sudden death.

According to the study, approximately 7.5 percent of children used multiple medications simultaneously, and among them, one in 12 was at risk for a major drug-drug interaction. Among those using multiple medications, adolescent girls were at highest risk, with nearly one in five using interacting drug regimens.

The vast majority of these potential interactions involved antidepressants with the most common potential adverse interaction effect being QT prolongation — an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause sudden death in otherwise healthy kids. The researchers report that this risk is “especially noteworthy” given that condition is often asymptomatic and sudden death is an under-reported problem in children.