An Introduction to Pediatric Psychopharmacology

by Sandra DeJong, MD, Associate Training Director, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Updated September 2013

I am grateful to Dr. Sandra DeJong, a skilled child psychiatrist, for providing a concise introduction to pediatric psychopharmacology. The following article should be very helpful for pediatricians who routinely prescribe such medication or as useful background information for those who do not.

I asked Dr. DeJong to write this article because I do not prescribe psychotropic medication in my practice. When parents request that medications be considered for their child, or when I think such meds may be helpful, I am more comfortable referring them to physicians like Dr. DeJong, who have the training and experience to prescribe safely.

Interested pediatricians should review not only her disclaimer but also her cautionary "general points." I urge them to keep those points in mind and to consider consulting regularly with a psychopharmacologist. I would also advise them to take advantage of other suggestions in this web site. They include taking a careful history, not only of the child but also the family, asking themselves, periodically, "Who is the real patient?" as well as considering the benefits of counseling approaches for the child and the family.

Dr. DeJong will review this site regularly and update it as new data becomes available.

- Dr. Howard King, MD 

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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,  and the families of my medical practice. 

I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.

- Dr. Howard King, M.D.