Trends in prescription medication use among children and adolescents—United States, 1999-2014
May 16, 2018
Hales CM, et al.
Experts assessed the trends in use of prescription medications among US children and adolescents. An overall decrease in the use of any medication from 1999-2014 was suggested with the estimates of prescription medication use. Among certain age groups, the prevalence of asthma medication, ADHD medication, and contraceptive use was seen to increase, while authors noted a decrease in the use of antibiotics, antihistamines, and upper respiratory combination medications.
Authors included US children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years in the 1999-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)—serial cross-sectional, nationally representative surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
The main exposures were sex, age, race and Hispanic origin, household income and education, insurance status, current health status.
The main outcomes and measures were use of any prescription medications or 2 or more prescription medications taken in the past 30 days; use of medications by therapeutic class; trends in medication use across 4-year periods from 1999-2002 to 2011-2014.
They collected data though in-home interview and direct observation of the prescription container.
As per findings, data on prescription medication use were available for 38,277 children and adolescents (mean age, 10 years; 49% girls).
Results demonstrated that overall, use of any prescription medication in the past 30 days decreased from 24.6% (95% CI, 22.6% to 26.6%) in 1999-2002 to 21.9% (95% CI, 20.3% to 23.6%) in 2011-2014 (β=-0.41 percentage points every 2 years [95% CI, -0.79 to -0.03];P=.04), but there was no linear trend in the use of 2 or more prescription medications (8.5% [95% CI, 7.6% to 9.4%] in 2011-2014).
The most commonly used medication classes used in 2011-2014 were asthma medications (6.1% [95% CI, 5.4% to 6.8%]), antibiotics (4.5% [95% CI, 3.7% to 5.5%]), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications (3.5% [95% CI, 2.9% to 4.2%]), topical agents (eg, dermatologic agents, nasal steroids) (3.5% [95% CI, 3.0% to 4.1%]), and antihistamines (2.0% [95% CI, 1.7% to 2.5%]).
Data suggested that in 14 of 39 therapeutic classes or subclasses, or in individual medications there were significant linear trends, with 8 demonstrating increases, including asthma and ADHD medications and contraceptives, and 6 demonstrating decreases, including antibiotics, antihistamines, and upper respiratory combination medications.
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