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More U.S. Kids Taking Diabetes, Blood Pressure Drugs

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

The number of American children and teens taking drugs to lower their blood pressure and control diabetes has risen significantly since 2004 a new study shows.

The study is reported in the April 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In the report, researchers at CVS Caremark used the company’s drug database to track prescriptions filled on behalf of children and adolescents. They examined the prescription records of almost 6 million U.S. children age six to 18 whose prescriptions were covered by private health insurance. They found that prescriptions for blood pressure medications, diabetes medications and cholesterol-lowering drugs increased by more than 15 percent from 2004 to 2007.

“Children and adolescents are starting to show signs of chronic health conditions and cardiovascular risk factors that are typically reserved for adults,” said Joshua N. Liberman, vice president of strategic research at the company and the study’s lead researcher. “We need to be educating health-care providers about the opportunities for managing these patients.”

Dr. Gotham Rao, clinical director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said that “the relative increases in prescriptions of anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering [cholesterol] medications isn’t surprising, but attributing increasing prescription rates to increasing rates of obesity should be done cautiously.”

“Physicians may actually be recognizing these problems better,” Rao said. “In other words, it’s not that the problems are becoming more common, but increasing awareness has led to increased rates of diagnosis.”

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