Report: More than a quarter of U.S. kids take at least one chronic med

Increased awareness, earlier screening and unhealthy lifestyles at root

NEW YORK — More than 25% of children and teens take at least one medication on a daily basis, and nearly 7% are on two or more drugs, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing 2009 data from Medco Health Solutions. Drawing additional data from IMS Health, the article noted that prescriptions for hypertension in people under the age of 20 years could reach 5.5 million for 2010 by the time year-end results are tabulated, which would mark a rise of 17% since 2007. 

The rise in prescription drug use among children has been attributed to increasing awareness among physicians and parents of available therapeutic options for kids and teens, earlier screening and diagnosis of chronic disease, and a rise in unhealthy eating and exercise habits among kids. That has many healthcare professionals concerned. While much is known about the effects of drugs to treat such conditions as asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, much less is known about the long-term effects of many other chronic care drugs on children — these drugs have been tested on adults, not kids, many experts have warned.

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