Most clinical trials of antipsychotics in children are brief, failing to address their long-term safety, particularly when taken concurrently with other psychotropics. This hypothesis-generating analysis evaluates potential correlates of weight gain in children receiving extended risperidone treatment.
Medically healthy 7–17 year-old patients treated with risperidone for six months or more were enrolled. Anthropometric measurements were conducted. Developmental and medication history was obtained from the medical record. Information related to birth weight, dietary intake, physical activity, and parental weight was collected. Mixed regression analyses explored the contribution of various demographic and clinical factors to age- and sex-adjusted weight and body mass index (BMI) z scores over the treatment period.
The sample consisted of 110 patients (89% males) with a mean age of 11.8 years (sd = 2.9) upon enrollment. The majority had an externalizing disorder and received 0.03 mg/kg/day (sd = 0.02) of risperidone, for 2.5 years (sd = 1.7), to primarily target irritability and aggression (81%). Polypharmacy was common with 71% receiving psychostimulants, 50% selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and 32% α2-agonists. Weight and BMI z score were positively correlated with baseline weight at the start of risperidone, treatment duration, and the weight-adjusted dose of risperidone but inversely associated with the weight-adjusted dose of psychostimulants and the concurrent use of SSRIs and α2-agonists. The effect of risperidone dose appeared to attenuate as treatment extended while that of psychostimulants became more significant. The rate of change in weight (or BMI) z score prior to and within the first 12 weeks of risperidone treatment did not independently predict future changes neither did birth weight, postnatal growth, dietary intake, physical activity, or parental weight.
This comprehensive analysis exploring correlates of long-term weight (or BMI) change in risperidone-treated youths revealed that pharmacotherapy exerts significant but complex effects.