Your child under the age of 2 is behaving oddly—is antipsychotic medication the answer? Many apparently think so: Nearly 20,000 prescriptions for anti-psychotics were given to US children that age in 2014 for withdrawn or violent behavior, up from 13,000 the year before, despite zero published research about the drugs' effect on kids that young, the New York Times reports. "It was just 'Take this, no big deal,' like they were Tic Tacs," says Genesis Rios about her 18-month-old son Andrew's prescription to Risperdal, which is normally for adults with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He received the prescription after reacting violently to epilepsy medication, but then screamed while asleep and reacted to things and people that weren't there. She took Andrew off the drugs four months later. "He was just a baby," she says.
Experts contacted by the Times say they had no idea children that age were taking anti-psychotics. Perhaps, they said, well-meaning doctors were trying to calm nasty temper tantrums, or ininsured parents were were actually consuming the drugs. "But where there’s smoke, there’s fire," says one. "For the protection of kids, we should evaluate this." What's more, known side-effects of anti-psychotics include high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and diabetes, Scientific American reported last year. And the brains of children that young may be evolving too quickly to risk using such medications. "There are behavioral ways of working with the problems rather than medication," says one doctor. "But that takes time and money." (Read more antipsychotic drugs stories.)