Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 1391–1402 | Cite as

Medical Conditions and Demographic, Service and Clinical Factors Associated with Atypical Antipsychotic Medication Use Among Children with An Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Johanna K. Lake
  • Danica Denton
  • Yona Lunsky
  • Amy  M. Shui
  • Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele
  • Evdokia Anagnostou
Original Paper


This study aimed to describe rates of antipsychotic medication use and the association between their use and demographics, clinical variables, and the use of behavioral/education services among children with ASD. For children with ASD ages 2–11 (n = 4749) and those 12–17 (n = 401), 5.4 and 17.7% were prescribed at least one atypical antipsychotic medication respectively. In the multivariable model of young children, older age, use of multiple psychotropic medications, prior ASD diagnosis, non-white Hispanic race/ethnicity, and oppositional defiant problems were associated with antipsychotic use. Among older children, only older age was associated with antipsychotic use. In at least one age group, antipsychotic medication use was also related to behaviour, family and occupational therapy, public insurance, site region, externalizing problems, body mass index, and sleep and gastrointestinal problems.


Autism spectrum disorder Atypical antipsychotic medication Children 


Authors’ Contributions

JL conceptualized study design and data analyses, drafted the initial manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted; DD, YL, and JV conceptualized study design and data analyses, critically reviewed the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted; AS carried out all data analyses, reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted; EA conceptualized study design and data analyses, coordinated and supervised data collection at two of the sites, critically reviewed the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted.


This research was supported by a grant given to the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA Grant# UA3MC11054). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the US Government. This work was conducted through the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network serving as the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health. We would also like to thank the families, their children, and all of the research staff involved in this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Veenstra-VanderWeele has consulted with Roche Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, and SynapDx and has had research funding from Roche Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, SynapDx, Seaside Therapeutics, Forest, and Sunovion. He receives an honorarium for editorial work from Springer and John Wiley and Sons. Dr. Anagnostou consultation fees and advisory boards include Roche; Industry funding: SynapDx, Sanofi-Aventis; Other funding sources include: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario Brain Institute, DOD, Autism Speaks, National Centers of Excellence, Physician Services Incorporated; Royalties received by: APPI and Springer. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna K. Lake
    • 1
    • 2
  • Danica Denton
    • 3
  • Yona Lunsky
    • 1
    • 2
  • Amy  M. Shui
    • 4
  • Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele
    • 5
    • 6
  • Evdokia Anagnostou
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Underserved Populations Program Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryPhoenix Children’s HospitalPhoenixUSA
  4. 4.Massachusetts General Hospital, Biostatistics CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.Holland Bloorview Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  8. 8.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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