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Study finds more children taking medications for chronic diseases

By Julie Bierach, KWMU

SAINT LOUIS, MO – The results of a new study show that more children are taking medications for chronic diseases.

The study, conducted by St. Louis University and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, found that "tweens" or kids between the ages of 10 and 14, more than doubled their use of type-2 diabetes medications in a span of three years.

Researchers looked at medications for chronic diseases like blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma and diabetes in children ages 5 to 19. They found that across every chronic medication class between 2002 and 2005, children's use increased.

SLU Pediatrician Dr. Donna Halloran says the likely cause, obesity.

"We are seeing an increase in the risk of chronic diseases due to obesity, like diabetes, like high blood pressure," said Dr. Halloran, assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine. "And long-term this has a tremendous risk of increased health care costs as this population ages."

Researchers used data consisting of pharmacy claims and eligibility information for over 3.5 million commercially-insured children enrolled with Express Scripts.

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