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November 25, 1998

Child Psychopharmacology Comes of Age

Author Affiliations

From the Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 1998;280(20):1785-1786. doi:10.1001/jama.280.20.1785

In this issue of THE JOURNAL, March et al1 report the results of a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of sertraline hydrochloride for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents. This article is gratifying in several ways. Obsessive-compulsive disorder has its onset in childhood or adolescence in approximately 50% of cases, and at least half of these cases benefit significantly from drug treatment.2 The study by March et al1 now extends to 3 the number of serotonin uptake–inhibiting drugs that have been demonstrated to be effective in children and adolescents in large multicenter trials. The others are clomipramine3 and fluvoxamine,4 and these 3 agents now have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in children and adolescents. In addition, 1 other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine, has been shown to be effective for childhood OCD in small controlled trials.5 Because OCD is highly treatable, general practitioners, pediatricians, dermatologists, and other specialists who treat children should be alert for children with senseless and repetitive thoughts and behaviors that typically deal with grooming, contamination, or danger.2