NEW YORK TIMES — More than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, which found that toddlers covered by Medicaid are particularly prone to be put on medication such as Ritalin and Adderall, is among the first efforts to gauge the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. in children below age 4. Doctors at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, where the data was presented, as well as several outside experts strongly criticized the use of medication in so many children that young.
The American Academy of Pediatrics standard practice guidelines for A.D.H.D. do not even address the diagnosis in children 3 and younger — let alone the use of such stimulant medications, because their safety and effectiveness have barely been explored in that age group. “It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”
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Perhaps the fact that 10,000 American toddlers are being treated for A.D.H.D. is not surprising, considering that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a whopping 5.9 million children 17 or under receive a diagnosis at some point in their lives.
But what is particularly disturbing is that this new data suggests that even the youngest Americans are being prescribed pills that can lead to addiction and liver toxification later in life.
And for what? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, signs and symptoms of A.D.H.D. include having trouble focusing, being easily distracted, and unable to follow instructions. If doctors are prescribing toddlers pills for having trouble sitting still during dinner and playing with anything in sight, aren’t they actually medicating toddlers for simply being… toddlers?
Well, if you ask psychotherapist and investigative journalist Thom Hartmann, the A.D.H.D. epidemic is far more alarming than even this story suggests. In fact, Thom’s research led him to conclude that the origin of the condition might be evolutionary and a result of adaptive behavior rather than the stigmatized disease society tells us.
Journalist Thom Hartmann dispels the myths about A.D.H.D. and explains why it might be an evolutionary trait and not a disorder on Breaking the Set:
Why A.D.H.D. is Not a Disorder | Interview with Thom Hartmann
Compiled and written by Abby Martin and Anya Parampil, photo by flickr user Life Mental Health