Comparative efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants for major depressive disorder in children and adolescents: a network meta-analysis


Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. However, whether to use pharmacological interventions in this population and which drug should be preferred are still matters of controversy. Consequently, we aimed to compare and rank antidepressants and placebo for major depressive disorder in young people.


We did a network meta-analysis to identify both direct and indirect evidence from relevant trials. We searched PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, LiLACS, regulatory agencies’ websites, and international registers for published and unpublished, double-blind randomised controlled trials up to May 31, 2015, for the acute treatment of major depressive disorder in children and adolescents. We included trials of amitriptyline, citalopram, clomipramine, desipramine, duloxetine, escitalopram, fluoxetine, imipramine, mirtazapine, nefazodone, nortriptyline, paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine. Trials recruiting participants with treatment-resistant depression, treatment duration of less than 4 weeks, or an overall sample size of less than ten patients were excluded. We extracted the relevant information from the published reports with a predefined data extraction sheet, and assessed the risk of bias with the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The primary outcomes were efficacy (change in depressive symptoms) and tolerability (discontinuations due to adverse events). We did pair-wise meta-analyses using the random-effects model and then did a random-effects network meta-analysis within a Bayesian framework. We assessed the quality of evidence contributing to each network estimate using the GRADE framework. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42015016023.


We deemed 34 trials eligible, including 5260 participants and 14 antidepressant treatments. The quality of evidence was rated as very low in most comparisons. For efficacy, only fluoxetine was statistically significantly more effective than placebo (standardised mean difference −0·51, 95% credible interval [CrI] −0·99 to −0·03). In terms of tolerability, fluoxetine was also better than duloxetine (odds ratio [OR] 0·31, 95% CrI 0·13 to 0·95) and imipramine (0·23, 0·04 to 0·78). Patients given imipramine, venlafaxine, and duloxetine had more discontinuations due to adverse events than did those given placebo (5·49, 1·96 to 20·86; 3·19, 1·01 to 18·70; and 2·80, 1·20 to 9·42, respectively). In terms of heterogeneity, the global I2 values were 33·21% for efficacy and 0% for tolerability.


When considering the risk–benefit profile of antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder, these drugs do not seem to offer a clear advantage for children and adolescents. Fluoxetine is probably the best option to consider when a pharmacological treatment is indicated.


National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program).

The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10047, p881–890, 27 August 2016

Body-Mass Index in 2.3 Million Adolescents and Cardiovascular Death in Adulthood


In light of the worldwide increase in childhood obesity, we examined the association between body-mass index (BMI) in late adolescence and death from cardiovascular causes in adulthood.


We grouped data on BMI, as measured from 1967 through 2010 in 2.3 million Israeli adolescents (mean age, 17.3±0.4 years), according to age- and sex-specific percentiles from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Primary outcomes were the number of deaths attributed to coronary heart disease, stroke, sudden death from an unknown cause, or a combination of all three categories (total cardiovascular causes) by mid-2011. Cox proportional-hazards models were used.


During 42,297,007 person-years of follow-up, 2918 of 32,127 deaths (9.1%) were from cardiovascular causes, including 1497 from coronary heart disease, 528 from stroke, and 893 from sudden death. On multivariable analysis, there was a graded increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes and all causes that started among participants in the group that was in the 50th to 74th percentiles of BMI (i.e., within the accepted normal range). Hazard ratios in the obese group (≥95th percentile for BMI), as compared with the reference group in the 5th to 24th percentiles, were 4.9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.9 to 6.1) for death from coronary heart disease, 2.6 (95% CI, 1.7 to 4.1) for death from stroke, 2.1 (95% CI, 1.5 to 2.9) for sudden death, and 3.5 (95% CI, 2.9 to 4.1) for death from total cardiovascular causes, after adjustment for sex, age, birth year, sociodemographic characteristics, and height. Hazard ratios for death from cardiovascular causes in the same percentile groups increased from 2.0 (95% CI, 1.1 to 3.9) during follow-up for 0 to 10 years to 4.1 (95% CI, 3.1 to 5.4) during follow-up for 30 to 40 years; during both periods, hazard ratios were consistently high for death from coronary heart disease. Findings persisted in extensive sensitivity analyses.


A BMI in the 50th to 74th percentiles, within the accepted normal range, during adolescence was associated with increased cardiovascular and all-cause mortality during 40 years of follow-up. Overweight and obesity were strongly associated with increased cardiovascular mortality in adulthood. (Funded by the Environment and Health Fund.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:2430-2440

Fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer: population based cohort study

Objective To evaluate the association between fruit and vegetable intake during adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Health professionals in the United States.

Participants 90 476 premenopausal women aged 27-44 from the Nurses’ Health Study II who completed a questionnaire on diet in 1991 as well as 44 223 of those women who completed a questionnaire about their diet during adolescence in 1998.

Main outcome measure Incident cases of invasive breast cancer, identified through self report and confirmed by pathology report.

Results There were 3235 cases of invasive breast cancer during follow-up to 2013. Of these, 1347 cases were among women who completed a questionnaire about their diet during adolescence (ages 13-18). Total fruit consumption during adolescence was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. The hazard ratio was 0.75 (95% confidence interval 0.62 to 0.90; P=0.01 for trend) for the highest (median intake 2.9 servings/day) versus the lowest (median intake 0.5 serving/day) fifth of intake. The association for fruit intake during adolescence was independent of adult fruit intake. There was no association between risk and total fruit intake in early adulthood and total vegetable intake in either adolescence or early adulthood. Higher early adulthood intake of fruits and vegetables rich in α carotene was associated with lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer. The hazard ratio was 0.82 (0.70 to 0.96) for the highest fifth (median intake 0.5 serving/day) versus the lowest fifth (median intake 0.03 serving/day) intake. The association with adolescent fruit intake was stronger for both estrogen and progesterone receptor negative cancers than estrogen and progesterone receptor positive cancers (P=0.02 for heterogeneity). For individual fruits and vegetables, greater consumption of apple, banana, and grapes during adolescence and oranges and kale during early adulthood was significantly associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Fruit juice intake in adolescence or early adulthood was not associated with risk.

Conclusion There is an association between higher fruit intake and lower risk of breast cancer. Food choices during adolescence might be particularly important.

BMJ 2016;353:i2343

Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence

Objectives To reanalyse SmithKline Beecham’s Study 329 (published by Keller and colleagues in 2001), the primary objective of which was to compare the efficacy and safety of paroxetine and imipramine with placebo in the treatment of adolescents with unipolar major depression. The reanalysis under the restoring invisible and abandoned trials (RIAT) initiative was done to see whether access to and reanalysis of a full dataset from a randomised controlled trial would have clinically relevant implications for evidence based medicine.

Design Double blind randomised placebo controlled trial. Setting 12 North American academic psychiatry centres, from 20 April 1994 to 15 February 1998. Participants 275 adolescents with major depression of at least eight weeks in duration. Exclusion criteria included a range of comorbid psychiatric and medical disorders and suicidality.

Interventions Participants were randomised to eight weeks double blind treatment with paroxetine (20-40 mg), imipramine (200-300 mg), or placebo. Main outcome measures The prespecified primary efficacy variables were change from baseline to the end of the eight week acute treatment phase in total Hamilton depression scale (HAM-D) score and the proportion of responders (HAM-D score ≤8 or ≥50% reduction in baseline HAM-D) at acute endpoint. Prespecified secondary outcomes were changes from baseline to endpoint in depression items in K-SADS-L, clinical global impression, autonomous functioning checklist, self-perception profile, and sickness impact scale; predictors of response; and number of patients who relapse during the maintenance phase. Adverse experiences were to be compared primarily by using descriptive statistics. No coding dictionary was prespecified.

Results The efficacy of paroxetine and imipramine was not statistically or clinically significantly different from placebo for any prespecified primary or secondary efficacy outcome. HAM-D scores decreased by 10.7 (least squares mean) (95% confidence interval 9.1 to 12.3), 9.0 (7.4 to 10.5), and 9.1 (7.5 to 10.7) points, respectively, for the paroxetine, imipramine and placebo groups (P=0.20). There were clinically significant increases in harms, including suicidal ideation and behaviour and other serious adverse events in the paroxetine group and cardiovascular problems in the imipramine group.

Conclusions Neither paroxetine nor high dose imipramine showed efficacy for major depression in adolescents, and there was an increase in harms with both drugs. Access to primary data from trials has important implications for both clinical practice and research, including that published conclusions about efficacy and safety should not be read as authoritative. The reanalysis of Study 329 illustrates the necessity of making primary trial data and protocols available to increase the rigour of the evidence base.

Restoring Study 329: efficacy and harms of paroxetine and imipramine in treatment of major depression in adolescence Joanna Le Noury, et al. BMJ 2015; 351(Published 16 September 2015)