Monday, October 22, 2007

Portsmouth, VA, School Board Warns Parents About Drug Dangers

Last month in Virginia, the Portsmouth School Board voted to send a note home to parents about the “harmful effects” of drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That got some groups in an uproar - mostly the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Tidewater chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Funny how the people who may benefit most from drugging kids got annoyed.
I didn't see a complaint from the Feingold Institute or folks who are educating people about the dangers of food additives and other junk in our food supply.

OK - OK - I know I'm gonna hear from parents out there who say drugs have helped their kids - that's fine - I am glad for you - but there are just as many, if not more, whose lives have been ruined because of mis-diagnosis or improper use of psychotropic drugs. The point is that parents should be warned about the dangers of these drugs. They might also do well to look into alternative therapies.

Some folks said this isn't an issue for the school to deal with anyway - and that health issues should be between the student and his doctor (and I agree with that on most counts).... well it seems to me if the schools are going to continue to push themselves into a child's health and well being then there is no reason for them not to send some sort of warning home to parents - I give them credit - at least they are trying to help the parents here by giving them more information.

Someone has to warn parents about the dangers of these prescription drugs: some doctors surely aren't. Some of them are making a fortune out of their prescribing drugs to kids, or out of their relationship with the drug makers.

Perhaps the school is merely trying to get themselves off the hook of any liability - especially if they reported that junior wasn't paying very good attention in class, which probably was the reason he has a doctor prescribe drugs in the first place. It behooves them to warn these parents about the dangers of these drugs before one of those kids shoots up their school, or commits suicide - right?

Apparently no one seems to really know how these anti-psychotics and other drugs affect the developing brain. Some have already seen the physical effects on children.
One article from the Providence Journal says this:
Side-effects, including diabetes, increased serum lipids, significant weight gain, sedation, and cardio-vascular effects, are frequently encountered with atypical anti-psychotics. Children may be more likely to develop these side-effects, and once the weight gain or diabetes occur, they may stay with the child for years into adulthood.
How many kids have to die or spend their childhood zoned out or develop other illnesses before someone speaks up?

And just think ... if we get socialized medicine in this country ... that just makes it easier for the money for prescriptions for kids to flow into Big Pharma's pockets and out of everyone else's!

By the way - have you signed the petition against mental health screening of kids in school? If not - watch the video and then decide.

(Hat Tip: Ken K.)


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I think it is important for parents of children with ADHD and other neurospych diagnoses to find out as much as they can about any drugs prescribed for their children. They should also get a second opinion about diagnosis and the amount of medication their child is prescribed.

Too often, children are prescribed drugs based on a checklist rather than on good, differential diagnosis. Often, the amount of drug prescribed is done by age or weight, rather than by good trials to find the lowest effective dose. When this happens, children are frequently overmedicated to the point of being zombies.

It is also important to know the classifications of the drugs a child receives. For example, Ritalin is an amphetamine. It is not an atypical antipsychotic. Each class of drugs works in a different way in the brain and has different side effects. Atypical antipsychotics, like Risperdal, work by blocking certain neurotransmitters being taken up by the post-synaptic cell, whereas SSRIs (such as Prozac) work by blocking uptake by the pre-synaptic cell.

Bottom line: there are excellent books and resources out there for parents whose children may need such drugs.

And frankly, I believe that schools should stay out of the issue completely. School personal are overstepping their bounds by either recommending or discouraging the use of drug therapies for neuropsychological diagnoses. They are not competent to make these determinations.

Freebee Foreign Pharmacy said...

Medications can truly help some kids, but it should not be the first solution to the problem. Too often in our society now, prescription drugs are thrown at kids so parents won't have to parent. Prescription meds should be the last alternative after all other routes and solutions are exhausted.

Stephen Mendelsohn said...


I just had a serious allergic reaction to an antibiotic combination, SMZ-TMP (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprin, marketed under the brand names Bactrim and Septra). After taking the drug for just over a week for a throat infection, my lower lip massively swelled up. I had to get urgent medical care, including an IV in my arm, diphenhydramine, and Prednisone. After reciting birkat ha-gomel in synagogue, someone told me I should be just as wary of antibiotics as I am of psychiatric drugs.

Wendy said...

I feel for parents that have to find out what is causing their children to act in the manner they are.

I am a parent that not only has a child with ADHD, I also have ADHD my self. Considering this, I was more than reluctant to have my child labeled with the "curse of ADHD."

It is unfortunate that many people don't have any idea the way ADHD children feel when the rest of the world attacks their lifelong challenge. These little people already have the challenge of being comfortable in their own skin. They don't need to be discouraged and scrutinized because they have the means to get help.

Many children may take medication. The problems that arise with medications is that it is all trial and error. Many of these drugs work in different ways and until the correct medication is found, there are bound to be side effects. This is why it is important for the parent and doctor to communicate effectively.

The good news is that some children are able to come off of medications areound the time they enter or exit puberty. My child will never be off of his medication. He was born dead and had certain areas of the brain shut down permanently.

Again. The key to a safe and consistant treatment plan is communication, counseling and education.

I despise the flyer that went out to parents. I was insulted. Beyond these feelings was my 10 year old child asking me if he was just stupid and didn't need medication. I spent the rest of the school year convincing him he is smart and when he feels he doesn't need the medication any more, we will try taking him off of it again. He has since decided he respects the need to continue his therapy and is again confident in his discussions with the people that actually monitor his progress.

My message to people that want to be involved in the medical treatment of my child is simple. Butt out.

Thank you!