Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Prescription Medication Use Among US Children

Pediatrics; ePub 2018 Aug 27; Qato, et al

Nearly 1 in 12 US children and adolescents are concurrent users of prescription medications and are at risk for a major drug-drug interaction (DDI), a recent study suggests. Researchers estimated the prevalence of prescription medication use, concurrent use, and potential DDIs in children and adolescents (aged ≤19 years) in the US. Concurrent use was defined as use of ≥2 prescription medications. They found:

  • During 2013-2014, 19.5% of children and adolescents in the study population used at least 1 prescription medication, 7.1% used acute medications.
  • Concurrent use of prescription medications was 7.5% overall and was highest among boys aged 6-12 years (12%) and among boys and girls aged 13-19 years (10% for both).
  • Using pooled 2009-2014 data, researchers found that 8.2% of concurrent users of prescription medications were at risk for a potentially major DDI.
  • The vast majority of interacting regimens involved antidepressants and were more common among adolescent girls than boys.


Qato DM, Alexander GC, Guadamuz JS, Lindau ST. Prescription medication use among children and adolescents in the United States. [Published online ahead of print August 27, 2018]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-1042.

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