From the Journals

Reassuring findings on SSRIs and diabetes risk in children


Close monitoring required

An as-treated analysis estimated the association of continuous SSRI treatment (vs. untreated, bupropion treatment, and psychotherapy), with adherence assessed at 3-month intervals.

Initiation and continuation of SSRI treatment in publicly insured patients were both associated with a considerably higher risk of T2D, compared with untreated patients, and a steeper risk, compared with their privately insured counterparts.

For newly treated publicly insured patients initiated on SSRI treatment, the ITT adjusted hazard ratio was 1.13 (95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.22).

There was an even stronger association among continuously treated publicly insured patients, with an as-treated aHR of 1.33 (95% CI, 1.21-1.47). The authors noted that this corresponds to 6.6 additional T2D cases per 10,000 patients continuously treated for at least 2 years.

The association was weaker in privately insured patients (ITT aHR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.84-1.23; as-treated aHR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.88-1.36).

The secondary analyses yielded similar findings: When SSRI treatment was compared with psychotherapy, the as-treated aHR for publicly insured patients was 1.44 (95% CI, 1.25-1.65), whereas the aHR for privately insured patients was lower at 1.21 (95% CI, 0.93-1.57)

The investigators found no increased risk when SSRIs were compared with bupropion, and the within-class analysis showed that none of the SSRIs carried an increased hazard of T2D, compared with fluoxetine.

“Publicly insured patients are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, whereas privately insured patients are generally covered by their parent’s employer-sponsored insurance,” said Dr. Sun.

“Publicly insured patients are of lower socioeconomic status and represent a population with greater overall medical burden, more comorbidities, and a higher prevalence of risk factors for T2D, such as obesity, at the time of treatment initiation,” she said.

She added that high-risk children and youth should be closely monitored and clinicians should also consider recommending dietary modifications and increased exercise to offset T2D risk.

Useful ‘real-world data’

William Cooper, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said that the study “provides a fascinating look at risks of SSRI medications in children and adolescents.”

Dr. Cooper, who was not involved with the study, said that the authors “draw from real-world data representing two different populations and carefully consider factors which might confound the associations.”

The results, he said, “provide important benefits for patients, families, and clinicians as they weigh the risks and benefits of using SSRIs for children who need treatment for depression and anxiety disorders.

“As a pediatrician, I would find these results useful as I work with my patients, their families, and behavioral health colleagues in making important treatment decisions.”

The study was supported by a training grant from the program in pharmacoepidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sun disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Dr. Cooper disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article originally appeared on


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