Psychotropes and children: are we ruining a generation?

There’s very little evidence on the effects of stimulants and antipsychotics in kids

by Julia Belluz

(Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune/AP Photo/)

There were a couple of troubling reports about the use of prescription drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and youth this week. The Vancouver Sun reported “a striking increase” in the rate of second-generation antipsychotics prescribed to kids. South of the border, the New York Times ran a big op-ed entitled “Ritalin Gone Wrong,” in which a psychology professor rang alarm bells over the three million U.S. children who take stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall for “problems in focusing.” With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, the professor said “we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs,” adding that few physicians and parents “seem to be aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these drugs.”

Over the years, there’s been slew of such scaremongering articles about “the drugged up generation.” Some examples: As far back as 2001, Time magazine published a big story about “The Age of Ritalin” which, even then, noted, “The pace at which Ritalin use has been growing has alarmed critics for a while now.” In a 2010 report, the Globe and Mail documented the meteroic rise in prescriptions for Ritalin and other amphetamine-like drugs for ADHD in Canada (up to 2.9 million in 2009, mostly for kids under 17, a 55 per cent increase over four years). The writer asked whether physicians were medicating a disorder or “treating boyhood as a disease.”

Science-ish looked into the literature on medicating childhood ADHD, and found interesting questions but not as many answers.

First, to find out more about those prescriptions of antipsychotics for children, Science-ish spoke to Dr. Silvia Alessi-Severini. She’s the assistant professor in the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg who led the study “Ten Years of Antipsychotic Prescribing to Children,” on which the Vancouver Sun article was based. The professor noted that off-label prescriptions of the tranquilizing medications (used mainly to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) for children with ADHD or aggression problems had indeed increased significantly, while the prevalence of psychotic disorders had not. “These drugs do not have any indication in children at all. Our message is that clinicians need to be careful and when they prescribe be aware of the risks and benefits… There’s no evidence they work in children.”

But there was some nuance that was missed in the mainstream reportage. Dr. Alessi-Severini was careful to point out that hers was an observational study using administrative data about prescribing. “With observational studies you don’t have a feel for clinical effectiveness and efficacy and adverse events… or the patient’s quality of life.” The researchers used a prescription database in Manitoba to describe trends, which couldn’t capture any of the latter.

Also, Dr. Alessi-Severini noted, we don’t know much about the effect of drugs on children in general, not just when it comes to antipsychotics and stimulants like Ritalin. For ethical reasons, she explained, there aren’t many randomized-controlled trials done on children. “Clinicians always use medications indicated for adults and scale down to treat young patients. But this raises the issue that we don’t really know how these drugs work in children, and what are the adverse events.”

Even if researchers do a prospective study comparing children with ADHD who were treated with medication to those who were not, there is a built-in selection bias since kids who got the medication may have been more severe cases in the first place.

On the subject of the surge in the use of amphetamine-like drugs such as Ritalin to treat ADHD, as reported by the New York Times, the author notes: “To date, no study has found any long-term benefit of attention-deficit medication on academic performance, peer relationships or behavior problems, the very things we would most want to improve. Until recently, most studies of these drugs had not been properly randomized, and some of them had other methodological flaws.”

There were similarly lackluster conclusions in the systematic reviews on acupuncture and homeopathy to treat attention-deficit disorders.

A more recent retrospective cohort study, though, had some hopeful results. It looked at ADHD drugs and serious cardiovascular events in children and young adults, and found no evidence that the “current use of an ADHD drug was associated with an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events”—despite worries by parents.

But the lead author of that study, Dr. William Cooper of Vanderbilt University, said that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. “Because no drug is completely without risk—including the sleep and appetite disturbances for ADHD medications—my approach as a pediatrician is to ensure that I carefully diagnose ADHD with rating scales and other tools and then carefully consider other options and additional therapies with families as we work together to come up with a treatment plan.”

Dr. David Cohen, a Canadian psychologist who studies the adverse effects of psychotropic drugs, was more concerned. “We just don’t have evidence about how safe these drugs are to use in children,” he added to the chorus. And we also have no information about long-term effects. “The vast majority of studies are eight weeks long.”

From his current post in France, where prescription rates for stimulants are much lower than in North America, he asked, “Why not give them to kids (here)? The kids are the same. But they just don’t deal with these problems like that.” Indeed, the way childhood ADHD is treated changes culture to culture. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that this three-country comparison study reported that the annual prevalence of any psychotropic medication in youth was greater in the U.S. (6.7 per cent) than in the Netherlands (2.9 per cent) and Germany (2.0 per cent). But exactly why this is the case raises more interesting questions: Is it just that the drug companies push their wares more aggressively in certain countries, or is it physician practices, different conceptions of risk and disease in different cultural settings, or changes in what people believe is normal childhood behaviour?

No one really knows, and we’ll continue to see alarmist stories in our newspapers about how to treat “problems in focusing” until we have better answers. Of course, this leaves moms and dads of ADHD kids in a tough place. As this response to the New York Times piece asked: If Ritalin has gone wrong, how are parents to cope? “These aren’t parents trying to get—as Dr. Sroufe puts it— ‘off the hook.’ They’re parents trying to to do their best for their families.” The problem is we’re just not sure what that “best” is.

*Correction: A previous version of this post misreported the conclusion of this review. Science-ish regrets the error.

Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, The Medical Post, and the McMaster Health Forum. Julia Belluz is the associate editor at The Medical Post. Got a tip? Seen something that’s Science-ish? Message her at julia.belluz@medicalpost.rogers.com or on Twitter @juliaoftoronto




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Psychotropes and children: are we ruining a generation?

  1. Okay so maybe it’s alarmist to talk about a drugged up generation but it’s complacent to just keep prescribing pills when there is so little evidence they work and so little safeguard against harm.

    Clearly “first do no harm” has been replaced with “first try this drug and see if it works.”

  2. Is it just that the drug companies push their wares more aggressively in certain countries, or is it physician practices, different conceptions of risk and disease in different cultural settings, or changes in what people believe is normal childhood behaviour?

    I’m surprised that one obvious possibility did  not make this list: that there are more children with ADHD (as if we really know what that means. . .) in the US than in the Netherlands or Germany.

    It wouldn’t take long to come up with hypotheses why that might be the case, given the differences in lifestyle (including dietary practices) among those countries.

    • Something very interesting about children with ADHD is that they don’t tend to have inattention problems in front of video games with flashing lights and loud sounds.  Maybe there is something about our Northern American culture that bombards young children with an over-stimulating environment from the moment they leave the womb that alters brain development in sensitive people……who knows.

      • You guys are making gross generalizations about the differences between Western European and American cultures. Logician, you use the example of a different diet between the two continents, even though Western Europe is facing the same obesity issues and has similar prevalence of fast food chains as the U.S. does. Insider, you imply there is a lot less flash-and-bang distractions on the other side of the Atlantic, when again, the very same video game titles and mindless action movies are just as popular there also.

        People will be people, multinational companies will be multinational – but the two surefire, immutable things that can vary between developed, Western nations are the laws, and the ways they are enforced. Laws governing the very answers brought up by Belluz – drug ads, physician practices, and so forth.

        • Given that most people live in much smaller accomodations, I have a very hard time believing that they have big screen tvs with surround sound blasting like most people in North America. 
          You seem to believe that physicians here are advertising for harrassed parents to come in and let them medicate their kids.  It isn’t the case.  Nobody wants to medicate a kid but if the kid is starting fires, harming his/her siblings, mutilating him/herself, climbing up on the roof of the house, harassing the other children at school….and a parent is no coping….you tell me what you would do as a physician.

          • Ya but Inside, they are medicating children just for not being focused in a classroom. A far cry from starting fires, self mutilating, and harming others. Im not saying for the most SEVERE of cases medication may be warranted but 20 million globally — come on. This is an abuse issue — SIMPLE. Thats what happens when the ol mighty dollar is involved and of course no scientific validity (self professed by the NIMH in 1998).

          • A lot of the kids that are taking these medications is because the school is saying the children do not sit still – we are medicating our children way too easy and the schools, parents and doctors need to get more involved and get the bottom of the problem and stop taking the easy way out. Medicating is sometimes not the solution and as parents we need to know that our children are not perfect but the school system has a lot to answer for also.

      • And how do you explain how sensory rooms, toys and learning tools work then? The lights don’t over stimulate, they stimulate the rights areas of attention that are lacking.

        • I think I pointed out in my comment that children with ADHD are able to attend to things that are stimulating.   That is not what I am saying.  I am talking about what causes ADHD to be prevalent in our North American culture when it is not as common in other cultures and I am questioning whether it is an exposure to too much stimulation at a very young age for some developing brains that are sensitive…in North America we are fond of our video games, big screen tvs, loud children’s toys…I am questioning if that is in any way related to the prevalence of ADHD.

      • This has been brought on on a program last week on the Nature of Things with David Susuki. Changes in the brain has been noticed in children that play video games. It also impacted behavior at college and university level. 

    • I entirely agree. And I would also suggest that the population of the USA may be genetically predisposed to precisely those traits that these days warrant a diagnosis. Who is more likely to emigrate: someone calm and content where he is, or someone by nature restless?

  3. Great post, as usual.

  4. I’ll go with “Is it just that the drug companies push their wares more aggressively in certain countries” + most GPs are not mental health professionals.  They rely heavily on the big, impressive DSM IV bible which is covered in big pharma logos.   Same reason our old folks in long term-care homes get handed Seroquel to keep them nice and quiet.

    “ADHD or ADD is characterized by a majority of the following symptoms being present in either category (inattention or hyperactivity). These symptoms need to manifest themselves in a manner and degree which is inconsistent with the child’s current developmental level. That is, the child’s behavior is significantly more inattentive or hyperactive than that of his or her peers of a similar age.”

    http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx1.htm

    • That is odd…The only DSM IV that I am aware of is a plain grey book with no logos on it.  There is also a smaller book that just has the diagnosis but again it has no logos on it.  Further, the DSM IV does not recommend treatments….it only provides criteria and diagnosis.  I bought my DSM IV at the medical book store.  It matches the copies that are available on the psychiatric units and those in the offices of the hospital psychiatrists.  Where did you get yours?

      • My ‘former’ GP had his big grey bible sitting on the counter in the examination room.  The inside of the front and back covers were filled with big pharma logos.  I asked him where he had gotten it, “From one of the drug companies at a conference he had attended”.  So I asked a few of my doctor friends and was told it is common practise to get the books from a drug company rep. thus the addition of their logos.

        • Your GP made the choice to accept a “freebie” from a pharmaceutical company….hence, the logos.  I wonder if the conference he attended was also sponsored by the pharmaceutical company.  I can assure you that the DSM IV was not published by or with any help from a pharmaceutical company.  It is up
          to the integrety of individual physicians in terms of what they accept as gifts.  Your ‘doctor friends” might tell you it’s common practice to “get books” from drug company reps. however,  I assure you this is just an excuse to assauge that incovenient thing called a conscience because I know physicians who won’t accept a free cup of coffee from a drug rep let alone a book worth $80.00.

          •  ”I can assure you that the DSM IV was not published by or with any help from a pharmaceutical company.”

            possibly not directly, but do you know how an entry gets into the DSM.  Physiciatrists gather in a big room and have a show of hands on whether a certain groups of symptoms are to be called “something”, if enough hands are raised then we have a new disorder, if not, we don’t… all extremely science based,ummm

            It is amazing how quickly these new disorders and/or subdivisions of disorders are “discovered” = right after Big Pharma comes out with a new drug

          • I know there are some disorders that many psychiatrists believe don’t exist.  However, it has been my experience that the tendency has been to “remove” disorders like multiple personality disorder (which doesn’t exist) and simplify others under one name ADHD, rather than add new ones.  The only example I can think of  of a disorder that likely doesn’t exist that has a medication for it is generalized anxiety disorder.  I would love to here about more if you could provide specific examples.  As for your contention that disorders are “discovered” and my guess is appear in the DSM as soon as drugs to treat them arrive on the scene…that is ridiculous given
             that the last major revision of the DSM IV was published in 1994 so we have had the same book for 17 years.  If all these new disorders had been invented to appease the pharmaceutical companies, the book would have required at least a few major revisions or how would the physicians out there have known these new disorders existed? 
            In the meantime, Leo and I were discussing why his physician’s copy of the DSM IV had pharmaceutical logos on it and I assured him the actual book does not but his doctor’s does because he accepted as a gift from a pharmaceutical company.   

          • FYI on the new DSM V –
             
            “Millions of healthy people – including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes — may be wrongly labelled mentally ill by a new international diagnostic manual, specialists said on Thursday.
             
            In a damning analysis of an upcoming revision of the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists, psychiatrists and other experts said new categories of mental illness identified in the book were at best “silly” and at worst “worrying and dangerous”.
             
            Allen Frances of Duke University and chair of the committee that oversaw the previous DSM revision, said DSM-5 would “radically and recklessly expand the boundaries of psychiatry” and result in the “medicalisation of normality, individual difference, and criminality”.
             
            David Pilgrim of Britain’s University of Central Lancashire said it was “hard to avoid the conclusion that DSM-5 will help the interests of the drug companies.”
             
            http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/09/new-diagnostic-mental-health-manual-may-label-shy-children-grieving-relatives-as-ill/ 

          • Insider, where are you obtaining your info. Look at the peer reviewed study from Lisa Cosgrove et al. “Financial Ties between DSM-IV Panel Members and the pharmaceutical Industry” University of Massachusetts. this article is a qualified study. This is a rebuttal to your comment “I assure you that the DSM IV was not published by or with any help form a pharmaceutical company.” Think again. The conflict of interest here screams with influence.

  5. I am wondering why no one thought to interview a child psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating ADHD.  This is the second editorial in Macleans in a week about this same subject and yet no one has gone to the so-called experts to ask why they would be using atypical antipsychotics “off-label” for children.  I have worked in adolescent psychiatry where children/teens are given Zyprexa (Olanzepine) (an atypical antipsychotic).  They are usually given this medication in a small dose (2.5 to 5 mg) every 4 hours as a type of “chemical restraint”.  It is given for unrelenting suicidal thoughts, self-harming behavior such as scratching, hitting your head against the wall or cutting yourself, violence toward others, damage to property, etc.  Although the medication CAN be given every 4 hours, it is only given if the child cannot re-directed in another way ie: through distraction; talking therapy; time out in their room.
    I know one mother in another blog, described her son as exhibiting some of the above behaviors (as well as starting fires) and he has been prescribed an antipsychotic as needed.  I am sure people realize that you cannot allow a child to bash his head against a wall or floor repeatedly without some sort of problems occuring.  When looked at this way, sometimes the use of the small dose of atypical antipsychotic has to be seen as a risk/benefit senerio…..do I let my child burn the house down or do I medicate him/her?

    • Crappy journalism… it’s why I cancelled my subscription. I will wait until the Economist publishes on the subject or I will just read a review article (there has to be some benefit to my PhD).

  6. Before running to medication, perhaps it’s worth a shot to try meditation. Kids respond instantly because it’s a natural high. But it’s also calming and helps kids find that stillness they crave to feel. Here’s an entertaining way to deliver the breathing technique. Feel free to check out the FREE PUPPET SHOWS for Book One of THE ICE VEIL TALES, a series of fantasy/adventures that teach kids how to love themselves no matter what! http://theiceveiltales.com/Book1Episode1.html

  7. I can tell you for a fact that these medications in kids with ADHD do not work! My son is 6 years old and has ADHD, learning disabilities among other thing, his psychiatrist gave him aderall xr and an anti psychotic. When I said neith did anything, possibly made him worse the doctor said to give him more!! Or send him away to a facility or foster care! Really? Why try to do your job and help him, its easier not to deal with him and pawn him off. I would not send my son away, he has ADhD, he can function and I cancare for him… doctors are very quick to drug everyone and pawn them off when they run out of ideas and or options.

    • I am sorry that you had a negative experience with your physician but I did want to point out that your physician’s suggestion regarding the medication was not really incorrect.   There is a procedure that is followed when a person goes on a medication…they start at one dose and if after 3 weeks no improvement is seen, the dose is increased….and you give the new dose a few weeks to work before deciding this medication is not efficacious.  The reason for this is that you want to approach things methodically and ensure that you reach a therapeutic blood level for a medication prior to discarding it as being ineffective.  Because people have different metabolisms, what might be a therapeutic dose for you, might not work for your neighbor.
      The other thing about medications is that the side effects tend to greatly decrease after 3 weeks on the medication so it is usual to try to get a patient to the three week mark before deciding if a medication is the right one…sometimes the side effects can seem to make the situation worse but after 3 weeks they almost disappear and everything changes.
      You can absolutely ask your family physician to send you to another children’s psychiatrist and that would be a good idea.  Trust is paramount between the physician and parents.  I would not give up because you met one psychiatrist you didn’t like.

      • What a crock. 

        • What exactly is the crock…that it takes 3 weeks to attain a therapeutic blood level and for side effects to disappear?  That if you have a lousy physician you should seek another one?  If I am wrong, provide the alternate information.

      • I am sorry but what you said in reply to my post is bull! My son has been on the meds for months, 7 to be exact and there is no difference in how he acted before he took them com.pared to now, and that is with changing doses here and there. He is more aggressive now and emotional than before and sleep pattern is way off.. this is due to the meds. But, because I as a parent am more willing to do more work than my sons psychiatrist, I have found more options for my son, like sensory rooms, toys and tools, I am getting his hearing checked to be sure he doesn’t have something wring in that area. The funny thing, when I mentioned this to his psychiatrist, he said they are fantastic ideas! If they are so fantastic, why didn’t he mention them and leave it to me to discover thru chance?
        Our kids aren’t the only ones who are quick to be druged by doctors, everyone is! Doctors hand out prescriptions and diagnosis faster than kids eat m&M’s. Funny how a doctor can say one has depression, bi-polar or anxiety without doing any thuro tests and hand out drugs for these diagnosis and leave it at that! I know this is true by fact, experience and doing research on a lot of what people say and tell me or a family member to put in our bodies or is supposed to be wring with us.
        Its like when everyone tripped out over the swine flu or that last flu scare where everyone lined up for hours get get the so call anti shot… people who got the si called shot to save you from getting I’ll, fell so I’ll they died! Glad I wasn’vtt one of the fools who got the shot. This is also why my kids do not get immunizations, and are exempt from them due to my moral beliefs. Prove the shots to not cause autism, not make you sick, etc… sorry, but I don’t agree with bill pushers who force kids to fit into a cluster where everyone is the same and kids need adult meds to get better and if they don’t then send them off. Makes me sick. P
        period.

        • I am sorry that you do not agree with what I said but it does not make it untrue.  It may be that the medications do not work for your son.  It also may be that you got a lousy psychiatrist.  If you got one lousy mechanic to fix your car would you judge all mechanics to be lousy based on one experience?
          I have been a psychiatric nurse for many years and I have known a few lousy psychiatrists but many excellent ones.  If someone got a lousy one, I would advise them to get a referral to a good one.
          As for you still believing that vaccination causes autism, I am surprised with your disgust of doctors that you would believe one doctor who has lost his license due to fraudulent behavior. 

    • I am a teacher with 30 years’ experience. I have seen and survived years teaching to medicated and unmedicated ADHD children. It it easier to deal with a child that has been medicated. Changes to their self esteem is easily observed, they are more confident and start learning. My son has a diagnosis of ADD, did not learn to read (father is a school principal with many years of teaching experience) until we medicated him. The changes were astronomical. If a teacher has 2 or more such children in the classroom, their behavior impacts on every one else. Very difficult to teach when you have a child that pokes, hurts, climbs the walls, swears etc. 

  8. I just worked on an academic article about just this topic. Some kids in foster care are given between 2-5 drugs. The most common diagnosis? ADHD.

    • Did your research give you an indication of which came first …the ADHD diagnosis or the foster care?  I guess my question is…are more chidlren with ADHD being put into foster care than children without the diagnosis?

      • My son’s psychiatrist suggested thereputic foster care for my son. All I have to say is the trust between doctor/patient was broken right there! Its so easy to pawn off the problem or problem child rather than to stick it out and deal with it with them. I am in it for the long run with my son, I am doing research, going to doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapy, meetings, etc… there is so much more we can do for our children other than sending them away because it becomes too much ft for you and drugging them. My son takes his medications, I am making him a sensory room, he works with a speech pathologist, we work on behavior at home and more… kids in general need a lot of work, but kids with special needs need extra work and time. Imagine how hard it is for them on a daily basis to have to live with their disabilities, special needs, etc… if its hard for you, its that much harder for them!

    • An absolute crime.

    • In canada, its mandatory for loosely diagnosed children of ADHD to take medications or their foster parents will not receive the funding — Orwellian isn’t it?

  9. Given that the majority of children treated with Ritalin are boys, perhaps the comment “are they treating boyhood as a disease is correct.  If a child is referred to a counselor for inattention in class, and later to a psychologist or doctor for a prescription, is this a sign of a disorder or a sign of boredom?  My own 5th grade reports indicated I was lazy and inattentive, belying my marks that were in the 80%+ range.  I was just bored.  An effective teacher will adapt teaching strategies to engage all students effectively and in a way that is not boring.  Achieving curriculum goals does not mean “sit down and do all the exercises on page x”.  Having worked in the classroom for 38 years, I am aware that sometimes I lost the boys in my class; however, I solved the problem by correcting myself, not them.

    • I am definitely not an expert in ADHD.  I did attend a talk given by a child psychiatrist.  He did say that there are two types of ADHD…those with inattention symptoms and those with hyperactivity.  Boys tend to have hyperactivity while girls tend to suffer from inattention.   The inattention systems suffered mostly by girls manifest as “daydreaming”.  The hyperactivity symptoms manifest as acting out.  Guess which symptom garner more attention and are more problematic in a classroom??????   The girls go un-noticed and more than that, largely UNDIAGNOSED.  According to this child psychiatrist the brains of child with ADHD have been seen on PET scans.  They don’t fire the same way that other children’s brains do.  These chidlren become exhausted just trying to attend to information.  Due to the sheer effort taken to concentrate, they often have nothing left when it comes to completing the work.
      These children have very low self-esteem, very high risk for substance abuse in their teenage years.
      Are they “treating boyhood as a disease”?  No!  They are trying to make it easier for these kids to concentrate.  Girls are definitely suffering as well but just much more quietly. 

      • A lot of psychiatric hogwash, I think.  All of those characteristics are normal with kids except if they go overboard. The last person I’s call is a trick-cyclist. These guys and women, along with drug companies, are trying to create “diseases” which can be treated/cured with their drugs.  I) agree with the apparent thesis of the  article that anxious parents, stupid teachers and phoney professionals are damaging a generations.

        Inside: I too have been inside the health care system for a few years and one has to learn that these so-called professionals in the mind business are dangerous.  Sure there are some overt cases of autism that can benefit from good guidance, good schools and wise parents but these are serious cases, not the ones that are talked about in the article..

  10. I do not like to participate in threads on the subject when I have no knowledge of whom I am associating with.  Anyone can post opinions on a message board like this one.  It’s a serious enough subject that it deserves a more respectable venue for discussion where people can be screened and held accountable for what they write.

  11. Good Lord!  What did we do before the government and scientists and drug companies banded together to medicate our kids into stupor?  Oh yeah, parents actually parented their kids, disciplined them, instilled faith values, played with them (instead of glueing them to a video screen), socialized them, taught them respect for authority, compeled them to share household chores, etc., ad infinitum.  Perhaps… PERHAPS… a miniscule number of kids need to be sedated for clinical health reasons, but our insane, secular, cradle-to-grave society has abdicated parental responsibility for properly supervising and raising our kids, instead crafting a lazy culture that relies on bad science telling us to drug our kids into oblivion.  Again, with the exception of a minority of clinically ill kids, they need an ear, not a pill; a game of baseball, not a video game; a spanking, not a pardon; and perhaps a lesson in humility, not me, me, me!  But I don’t ever expect the intellectuals to get this.

    • With you there bub! See above

  12. These studies show homeopathy is effective in treating ADHD:

    “Treatment of hyperactive children:  Increased efficiency through modification of homeopathic diagnostic procedure”, Frei, et al.:

    This study shows that the success rate in treating ADHD homeopathically increased from 21% with the first prescription to 54% with improved prescriptions.  The success rate with the fifth prescription improved from 68% to 84%.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815520

    “Homeopathic treatment of children with ADHD disorder:  A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial”, Frei, et al.:

    Two publications, an RCT and an observational study, conclude that homeopathy has positive effects in patients with ADHD particularly in the areas of behavioral and cognitive functions.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16047154
    European J. of Pediatrics, 2007, May; 166-(5): 509 

    • Due to pressure from our school, we had our 9 year old son assessed a year ago and the psychologist (chosen by us) said he is borderline ADHD (has impulsivity and hyperactivity issues but is extremely intelligent). So, not diagnosed with ADHD. Not good enough for the school, apparently. Every meeting we had with his teacher this year was like listening to a commercial for ritalin. She even told us that a couple of boys in the class are currently medicated (she provided names of the children, by the way). It came to the point where I had to write a letter to the school requesting a copy of my son’s student file because obviously they are misinformed, and also to tell them that the topic of medication is not to be discussed further. Unfortunately, the school has labeled my son despite everything. Our son is now being followed by a doctor who practices functional medicine. His main clientele are children with autism. He is anti-meds and gets to the root of the problem. ie: diet. Various tests were conducted (stool, hair, urine, etc) to determine if our son had any vitamin and mineral deficiencies or food sensitivities, all if which impact how the brain functions. For the past 3 months we have been giving our son vitamin and mineral supplements and probiotics as well as cutting down on refined sugar, and have noticed a change in him that even his teacher noticed (first positive feedback of the year!). We will continue on this path and I highly suggest all parents facing these issues to investigate this route. There are so many other options to try before resorting to meds.

  13. There is too much of this nonsense about ADHD and drugging the kids who are supposed to have it.  Pretty soon someone will come up with OFOODD for guys like me – Old Fart Out Of Date Disorder and slap the drugs to us. We have all known kids who fidget when confined for stupid reasons, whose minds wander when confronted with boredom brought on by an adult agenda, or who act out when nobody loves them or pays attention to them.  Let’s get a grip and stop this nonsense by understanding WHY kids do these things, not doping them up so they are “manageable.” There are kids with REAL problems but boredom or hyperactivity are not among them – in my opinion. Those problems are because of the environment that stupid adults force on them.

  14. There’s a typo in para 9, citing a ‘recent systematic review on efficacy of medication therapies for treatment of ADHD’.  When clicking on the link provided, it is not a review on medication but rather meditation.  This gives a seriously misleading impression and should be corrected.

  15. u could cure adhd with a single joint. case closed.
     

  16. ADHD is much more than “problems focusing.”  There does need to be treatment or a person’s quality of life can be severely affected right into adulthood & lifelong.  I know as I was married to someone with it. He’s classic- low self-esteem, one low level job after another, in a world of his own, very unreliable, relationships affected detrimentally, zones out & ignores everyone. There’s a higher than average divorce rate for ADHD people. Their own lives can be  difficult & they make those of people around them difficult too. 
    There are often comorbid disorders such as depression & OCD.  There’s risk to drug  treatment but it can’t be left untreated. That carries a big risk too. Risk benefit considerations for parents.  It’s difficult. I just know that if I had a child with it, knowing what I know about my ex, I would treat my child.

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