Yet childhood bipolar disorder is an increasingly controversial diagnosis. Even doctors who believe it is common disagree about its telltale symptoms. Others suspect it is a fad. And the scientific evidence that atypicals improve these children’s lives is scarce.
Anya Bailey is among a growing number of children given antipsychotic drugs by doctors who are paid by the makers of those drugs.
Psychiatrists, Children and Drug Industry’s Role
When Anya Bailey developed an eating disorder after her 12th birthday, her mother took her to a psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota who prescribed a powerful antipsychotic drug called Risperdal.
Created for schizophrenia, Risperdal is not approved to treat eating disorders, but increased appetite is a common side effect and doctors may prescribe drugs as they see fit. Anya gained weight but within two years developed a crippling knot in her back. She now receives regular injections of Botox to unclench her back muscles. She often awakens crying in pain.
Isabella Bailey, Anya’s mother, said she had no idea that children might be especially susceptible to Risperdal’s side effects. Nor did she know that Risperdal and similar medicines were not approved at the time to treat children, or that medical trials often cited to justify the use of such drugs had as few as eight children taking the drug by the end.( Collapse )