LOS ANGELES: Foster Kids With Psychiatric Disorders Undermedicated, Study Says
Over half of Los Angeles County foster children with psychiatric disorders are candidates for medicinal treatment but do not take prescribed drugs to improve their conditions, according to a report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Public Health. The University of California-Los Angeles study found that "about 52% of the foster children diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders were not taking any medication, even though drugs are often prescribed in such situations." Dr. Bill Arroyo, medical director for the county Department of Mental Health's children's division, said the new findings indicate that "medication is not being considered as an option perhaps to the degree it should be." Researchers evaluated 302 foster children from East Los Angeles, North Long Beach and the Antelope Valley, who were afflicted with mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depression and bipolar and psychotic disorders. Foster children exhibit these problems more commonly than other kids because of the "high levels of neglect and abuse" they often suffer, according to study leader Dr. Bonnie Zima, a UCLA child psychiatrist. But some doctors took exception to the report, warning that it could lead to the overzealous medication of such children. "What (the study) reveals mostly is the researchers' bias. They're trying to make all the childhood problems into drug-remediable disorders ... to solve life's problems with a pill" said UCSD psychiatrist Dr. Loren Mosher (AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.