Helping Children

Some Topics

Children Problems with Prescription Drugs

Sad to say, all is not well at the MDs office and the pharmacy counter. Physicians prescribe drugs that are not needed, have not been approved for children, drugs that have serious side effects and drugs that are toxic and can cause death. The prescription of psychotropic drugs to children is one the most deplorable aspects of medical practice. In the USA, Harris stated: “As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. How this money may be influencing psychiatrists and other doctors has become one of the most contentious issues in health care. For instance, the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved. Drug makers generally spend twice as much to market drugs as they do to research them. ” (New York Times June 2007)

A well know prescription drug problem is the overuse of antibiotics to treat viral infections, allergy and other symptoms that are not improved with their use. The overuse of antibiotics contributes to bacterial resistance in the community, an increasingly serious problem. Government agencies are busy trying to control antibiotic use. They have to educate both physicians and parents that antibiotics are not required for colds, coughs, ear infections, and digestive upsets. Some viral illnesses produce alarming illnesses, especially influenza and adenoviruses that sweep through communities at least once a year. There are now limited antiviral drugs that can sometimes be prescribed but none of the antibiotics are helpful. The majority of viral illnesses resolve with nursing care, but no drugs.

Despite a long tradition of giving syrup medicine to sick kids, most of the over-the-counter syrups, capsules and pills for colds and coughs are not effective and carry some risk. See Cough and Colds

Psychotropic Drugs

Dr Gislason stated: "I have progressed from being an enthusiastic supporter of psychotropic drug research and the therapeutic use of mind drugs 30 years ago, to a disenchanted skeptic who is convinced that drug prescriptions to change mood, attitude, thinking and memory are mostly ill-advised and may often be harmful. I will argue that responsible adults need to become better informed about prescription drugs and exercise constraint when seeking and accepting prescriptions that alter their brain function. I will also argue that prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for children and the elderly are increasing unreasonably and need to be voluntarily constrained by physicians, resisted by family members and controlled by government regulators."

Without a healthy body-input, mental health is an impossible goal. Parents tend be unrealistic about what substances their children can safely ingest and inhale. The wrong foods and beverages can easily and profoundly affect their mind. Parents believe that their children are tougher than they really are.

Ritalin and Amphetamines

In the US, a FDA advisory committee heard testimony indicating that 2.5 million children take stimulants for ADHD, including nearly 10 percent of all 10-year-old boys in the United States. The use of these agents is much less prevalent in European countries, where the diagnosis of ADHD is relatively uncommon. The popularity of the diagnosis, Adult ADHD is relatively recent leading to at least 1.5 million adults who take stimulants on a daily basis, with 10 percent of users older than 50 years of age. Drug-related events reviewed by the committee included 25 cases of sudden death in children or adults that included myocardial infarction, stroke, and serious heart arrhythmias. The committee concluded: “We rejected the notion that the administration of potent sympathomimetic agents to millions of Americans is appropriate. We sought to emphasize more selective and restricted use, while increasing awareness of potential hazards. We argued that the FDA should act soon and decisively. “

Professor Sroufe wrote: “Three million children in the USA take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning. But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled? In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder. As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs. Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term, which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth. Sadly, few physicians and parents seem to be aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these drugs.”

A highly regarded Cochrane Review showed that there is only very low-quality evidence to support the use of methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, other brands) in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) leading the reviewers to urge more caution when prescribing stimulants. Dr Storebø and Dr Zwi stated: "We should view the average reduction in symptom scores attributable to treatment with a high degree of caution," they add. "Clinicians need to weigh what we now believe to be an uncertain degree of benefit against the many adverse events that are known to be associated with methylphenidate, such as appetite suppression and sleep difficulties. The general perception of methylphenidate as an effective drug for all children with ADHD seems out of step with the new evidence. This new information from our review should challenge the mindset of clinicians because there is more uncertainty to factor in to balancing the benefits and risks of these medications.,"  

(Methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. November 25 2015.)

See Dr. Gislason's Blog Drugging Children.

See Brain Drug Warnings