Toddlers covered by Medicaid are especially vulnerable to being put on prescription drugs for ADHD against the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated on Friday.
More than 10,000 two and three year old American toddlers are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) outside established medical guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Physicians and mental health specialists denounced the practice on Friday during the presentation.
The AAP does not support the diagnosis of ADHD for toddlers. Drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall are being given to toddlers even though their safety and efficacy have not been determined. Children on Medicaid were found to be especially vulnerable to the unapproved practice.
In a telephone interview with the New York Times, Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. Lawrence H. Diller said, “People prescribing to 2-year-olds are just winging it. It is outside the standard of care, and they should be subject to malpractice if something goes wrong with a kid.”
A major concern of this unapproved practice of prescribing medications for ADHD to toddlers is that while the ADHD medication may seem to calm a toddler’s hyperactivity and impulsivity, they carry risks for growth inhibition, hallucinations, insomnia and mental disturbances. Aside from that, doctors are concerned that children are being medicated for typical toddler behavior. The increased risk of being prescribed medication for ADHD among Medicaid recipients is also cause for concern among medical experts.
Adderall is the only drug approved by the FDA for children under the age of six. However, the AAP guidelines do not approve the use of this drug for toddlers between two and three years old. Between the ages of four and six years old, the medication is only suggested after behavioral therapy is fruitless in altering behavior associated with ADHD.
Tech Times reported, “Diller claimed that while the U.S. makes up only 4 percent of the world’s total population, it uses 70 percent of the world’s Adderall and Ritalin.”
Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. Doris Greenberg explained that in the event when a toddler’s behavior is so severe that it risks destroying the family unit, medications like these could be used. She called these circumstances extremely rare though. “Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems,” Dr. Greenberg said. “But you also have overwhelmed parents who can’t cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse.”
In the Huffington Post, Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus at Duke University and chairman of the DSM-IV task force, responded, “Treating babies with stimulants is based on no research, is reckless, and takes no account of the possible harmful long-term effects of bathing baby brains with powerful neurotransmitter drugs.” He added, “This falls outside the already overly inclusive guidelines that start kids at the too early age of four.”
Diller told Today Health, “There’s no evidence that it works. There’s no evidence that it’s safe. These are desperate measures.”
A previous report by Inquisitr noted several more natural approaches to handling perceived ADHD in toddlers. The disproportionate use of ADHD medications like Ritalin and Adderall among toddlers on Medicaid will be further evaluated by the CDC once the national data is in.
[RX photo derived from The University Of Texas at El Paso]