Foster children are prescribed more mind- altering drugs at rates that are significantly higher, than non-foster children, according to a detailed investigation released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office.

The report, examining children in the Medicaid program, found that foster kids were being prescribed five or more medications at once at an age and at doses that exceed the maximum FDA-approved levels, all of which can lead yeah to severe health risks, some of which include diabetes and suicidal behavior.

A total of 3,841 infants under age one were prescribed a psychotropic drug in all five state reported in the investigation. The drugs can which include those used to treat ADHD, anxiety, depression and psychosis. Experts say that it is unreasonable and irresponsible to prescribe infants those types of drugs, the GAO notes.

The study looked at data for more than 100,000 foster children in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas recorded in 2008. The report found that foster children were given psychotropic drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 times higher than other children in Medicaid in 2008.

The report "confirms some of my worst fears," Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., said in a Senate hearing on the issue Thursday. He also says that the federal health officials are failing to monitor how state agencies are distributing powerful psychotropic drugs.

Some of the prescribed drugs have “black box” safety label for children, and are not meant for use by young children. However, doctors often prescribe them off label, and are usually used to treat depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions.

The GAO points out several explanations for the high prescription rates, noting that psychotropic drugs have proven effective in treating mental illness, and the higher rate could be "due to foster children's greater exposure to traumatic experiences and the unique challenges of coordinating their medical care."

Some critics say the drugs are over-prescribed for use as a chemical restraint for unruly children. However some advocates for child welfare say there’s a deficiency in the number of child psychiatrists, leaving pediatricians to prescribe drugs to handle complex behavioral problem, according to Reuters.

In September, Congress passed a law to the curb the increasing amount of psychotropic drugs given to children in foster care. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act requires states to come up with protocols for appropriate use of psychotropic drugs for foster kids.

However the GAO believes the law is insufficient. Instead it believes the federal government should create nationwide guidelines to "help states close the oversight gaps we identified and increase protections for this vulnerable population."