There has been a sharp worldwide increase during the last decade in antipsychotic drug (APD) treatment among paediatric patients, with APDs reported to have been prescribed to children as young as 2 years of age.

APDs have been prescribed not only to treat childhood onset schizophrenia, but are also widely used (mostly “off-label”) in paediatric patients to treat bipolar disorder, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.

The broad aim of this project is to investigate the long-term effects of early exposure to the three most widely-used APDs including aripiprazole, olanzapine and risperidone in developing brains (equivalent to children and adolescence) on adult behaviours in the psychiatric polyriboinosinic-polyribocytidylic acid [poly(I:C)] rat models.

A series of behavioural tests will be conducted in adult rats. Brain samples will be collected for analysis of biomarkes for neurotransmissions. This will be the first study to investigate the long-term effects of early APD exposure in juveniles on brain development in a psychiatric rat model.

The results from this project will provide critical information for psychiatrists/paediatricians, to balance the risk/benefit ratio, before prescribing antipsychotics to children and adolescents.

Funding body

Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong

Scheme name

Small Project Grant

Years funded


Lead institution

University of Wollongong


Project leaders