Many Children Medicated for Insomnia

PROVIDENCE, R.I., July 29 (UPI) — U.S. psychiatrists report medicating one-third of their school-age and teenage patients for insomnia.

Researchers at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I., say sleep medications range from prescribed antihistamines to sedating medications for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder such as alpha agonists — clonidine — to antidepressants like trazodone. They also included medications from a number of other categories such as anti-psychotics and anti-convulsants depending on the psychiatric or behavioral diagnosis of the child.

The study, published in Sleep Medicine, finds 96 percent of the clinicians recommending at least one prescription insomnia medication in a typical month and 88 percent recommending an over-the-counter medication for sleeplessness. However, the practitioners also express a number of significant concerns about the appropriateness of sleep medication in general for children.

“The most important rationale for the use of sleep medication among child psychiatrists is to manage the effects of sleep disruption on daytime functioning,” study leader Dr. Judith Owens says in a statement.”

“It is important to note, however, that concerns about side effects and the lack of evidence regarding their effectiveness were cited as significant barriers to their use.”

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