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What are the effects of SSRIs on children development and growth?

By Anonymous July 17, 2010 - 11:19pm
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My daughter has OCD and has been getting CBT and Exposure Response therapy, but her symptoms are pretty severe and we think she might do well with mild dose of medication which would be an SSRI. She is 11 years old and I am a little worried about the effects of this medication on her growth and development into adulthood, puberty, etc Are there any studies to go by on this topic. Can you give me any info on this subject?

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Hi again,
After researching, I have not found any articles that relate to the long-term effects of taking SSRI in children with OCD. There are many short-term treatment effect studies, as well as long-term effects on the effectiveness of treatment, but nothing on if SSRIs effect growth and development of children.

What you can do from here:
1. Ask your daughter's doctor how long he suspects she would be on treatment
2. Ask her doctor for research studies regarding the long-term effects of SSRI treatment in children
3. Do you live close to a University? Even better, do you live close to a University with a Medical Center/Hospital? If so, you can contact a University Librarian to help you search the literature for children's long-term adverse effects on SSRI treatment for OCD.
4. A few journals to begin with: Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

Let us know if there is anything else we can help with, and if you can answer some of the follow-up questions, we can provide further information

If you would like me to help find resources for you, what city/state do you live in, if in the U.S.? If you do not want to post this information, just click on my name and send me a private message and I can help.

July 18, 2010 - 8:04pm

This is a great question that I am looking into, and wanted to provide some of my preliminary findings from the medical literature. I will include the references I use, so you can continue with the research as well.

I am also interested to learn what your daughter's doctor has mentioned as far as long-term consequences of taking SSRI's in children under the age of 18. How many doctors is your daughter seeing currently? You mentioned she is receiving CBT, cognitive behavior therapy.

So far, the adverse effects of SSRIs that I have read include short-term effects only, including "suicidal ideation, conduct problems, aggression". Depending on the study, this increased effect was minimal (2%-5% in children) and up to 25% of children in any specific study.

The other concern in the literature is the "high placebo rate of SSRIs" (for depression), and I am looking to see if the same is true for OCD patients as well. (high placebo rates mean that patients responded equally as well when taking the medication, compared with taking a placebo or inactive medication).

I have not yet found any adverse effects in children that include your concerns (long-term effects on growth and development), but will keep searching and post again later today, along with all of the article references.

In the meantime, can you tell us what your daughter's doctor(s) have said regarding possible treatment effects?

Also, did your daughter's doctor indicate how long she would be taking this medication? The only "long-term" study I have found (to this point) is related to the "long-term treatment" of one particular SSRI, and "long-term use" was defined as 52 weeks. This study was looking at remission rates (not adverse effects), and found children had greater remission rates of OCD after treatment (compared to adolescents).

July 18, 2010 - 6:29am
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