Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and conduct disorder (CD) are among the most common psychiatric diagnoses in childhood. Aggression and conduct problems are a major source of disability and a risk factor for poor long-term outcomes.
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antipsychotics, lithium, and anticonvulsants for aggression and conduct problems in youth with ADHD, ODD, and CD. Each medication was given an overall quality of evidence rating based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.
Eleven RCTs of antipsychotics and 7 RCTs of lithium and anticonvulsants were included. There is moderate-quality evidence that risperidone has a moderate-to-large effect on conduct problems and aggression in youth with subaverage IQ and ODD, CD, or disruptive behaviour disorder not otherwise specified, with and without ADHD, and high-quality evidence that risperidone has a moderate effect on disruptive and aggressive behaviour in youth with average IQ and ODD or CD, with and without ADHD. Evidence supporting the use of haloperidol, thioridazine, quetiapine, and lithium in aggressive youth with CD is of low or very-low quality, and evidence supporting the use of divalproex in aggressive youth with ODD or CD is of low quality. There is very-low-quality evidence that carbamazepine is no different from placebo for the management of aggression in youth with CD.
With the exception of risperidone, the evidence to support the use of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers is of low quality.
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