Are We Over-Medicating Our Children?

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I had to tell my niece Tubi/g do not take any funds, from the pharmaceutical industry or from the liquor industry or cigarettes or guns. But unlike every other institution, we also don't let pharmaceutical representatives come on our ground. And that's because the public is very distrusting of the concept of children taking psychiatric medication.

But the data is pretty evident that overwhelmingly we see that most kids who have these psychiatric disorders are not getting treated, and yet we see a dramatic increase in the use of these medications particularly for kids with inattention and distractability, and so I think we have a problem.

The problem is whose is making the diagnosis, and whose getting the medicine? An interesting fact has recently come up is that under the previous administration, under President Bush we instituted a new law called leave no child behind. And it turns out that keeping kids in school is financially very good for those schools and for those states because they'll get more funds for education.

One of the things that has recently come up is that when you start looking at the differences geographically in the country as to who gets medicine and who doesn't, you are five times more likely to get a psycho stimulant if you are a boy in Arkansas than if you were a boy in Nevada.

It turns out that there aren't more child psychiatrists in Nevada or Arkansas, they have about the same amount. It really turns out to be a difference in the flow patterns and attitude of sending those kids to pediatricians who seem to be comfortable with the use of those medicines for disruptive behavior in the class.

Being disruptive or inattentive in class doesn't define or make the diagnoses of ADHD. ADHD is made by interviewing teachers getting a history that a child had the symptoms before the age of six, and it has to be cross situational, it's not just in school but the kid has to show you those symptoms at home or at play as well.

So like any good diagnosis it takes time and effort and it's not a seven minutes intervention that all of a sudden you can just make the diagnosis.