Use of Medication Prescribed for Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties Among Children Aged 6–17 Years in the United States, 2011–2012

Mental health problems are common chronic conditions in children.  Medication is often prescribed to treat the symptoms of these conditions. Few population-based studies have examined the use of prescription medication to treat mental health problems among younger as well as older school-aged children.

A new NCHS report describes the sociodemographic characteristics of children aged 6–17 years prescribed medication or taking medication during the past 6 months for emotional or behavioral difficulties, and describes parental reports of the perceived benefit of this medication.

  • Seven and one-half percent of children aged 6–17 years used prescribed medication during the past 6 months for emotional or behavioral difficulties.
  • A higher percentage of children insured by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program used prescribed medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties than children with private health insurance or no health insurance.
  • A higher percentage of children in families having income below 100% of the poverty level used prescribed medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties than children in families at 100% to less than 200% of the poverty level.
  • More than one-half of children who used prescribed medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties had a parent report that this medication helped the child “a lot.”

 

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