IPT Book Reviews

Title: Use of Neuroleptics in Children 
Editors: Mary Ann Richardson and Gary Haugland
Publisher: American Psychiatric Press, Inc 1996

American Psychiatric Press, Inc.
1400 K Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
(800) 368-5777
$34.00 (c)

For professionals who deal with children who may be showing various levels of disturbance, at least a rudimentary knowledge of drugs often prescribed for children can be very useful.  This 215-page book for clinicians, intended to be a summary of research on using tranquilizing drugs with children, can be useful to many others as well.  It is essentially a brief introduction to the basis upon which drugs may be prescribed, how they must be controlled and monitored, and what cautions need to be expressed.

An observation repeated throughout the book is that psychosis and schizophrenia are quite rare among children.  There is not a great deal of need for the use of these powerful tranquilizing agents.  While there may be benefits from these powerful medications for some limited problematic behaviors, i.e. Tourette's Syndrome, the side effects need to be considered whenever they are prescribed.  The book reports on two basic side effects which may be associated with the drugs.  They are the neurological deficits which may occur in either Parkinsonian symptoms or Tardive Diskenesia and the cognitive impairment which may also result from using the drugs.  A third side effect has been noted with children treated with neuroleptics for Tourette's Syndrome.  This is the development of noncompliant, oppositional, and aggressive behaviors that may warrant a diagnosis of personality disorder.  The side effects occur with sufficient frequency that the main message of the book is that selection of medication, dosages, frequency, and duration of treatment must be monitored very carefully and thoroughly.  Many of the research studies reported are of rather poor quality involving uncontrolled and small samples and relatively limited measurement of either base rates or post treatment effects.  A welcome suggestion, which may also generalize to other issues involving children, is the endorsement of videotaping children's behavior in order to have some base rate information about their level of functioning and actual problems.

Nonmedically trained professionals who deal with children will benefit from this book.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota 55057.

Order this book: Hardcover

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