The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Prozac for children with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, officially sanctioning a medical practice that has been in effect for more than a decade.
Data suggest that the antidepressant may affect growth in children and adolescents. One trial found that youths on Prozac grew an average of one-half inch less and gained about two pounds less than members of a control group who were not taking the drug. Little is known about the effects of long-term use on the brain.
Doctors have selectively prescribed Prozac to children since it was introduced in the U.S. in 1987. And the use of psychotropics among children and adolescents more than doubled in the '90s--nearly equaling usage in adults, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Antidepressants such as Prozac were among the most commonly prescribed drugs.