This week I posted a little known fact as our health fact of the week in the clinic: Over 274,000 Infants (0-1 year olds) and over 370,000 toddlers (1-3 years old) in the U.S are taking psychiatric drugs including:
- 249,669 0-1 year olds are on anti-anxiety drugs (such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan).
- 26,406 0-1 year olds are on antidepressants (such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil).
- There are 1,422 0-1 year olds taking ADHD drugs (such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta).
- 654 0-1 year olds are taking antipsychotics (such as Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa).
- 318,997 2-3 year olds are on anti-anxiety drugs.
- 46,102 2-3 year olds are on antidepressants.
- 3,760 2-3 year olds are taking antipsychotics.
- The total number of 0-5 year olds currently prescribed psychiatric drugs is 1,080,168.
Source: IMS Health’s Vector One: National and Total Patient Tracker Database for 2013 When patients first read this information they thought they were reading it wrong. Why on earth would a baby be on a psychiatric drug?? Same reaction I had a few weeks ago when a 4 month old infant came to see me and was on an anti-anxiety medication for adults to treat a skin rash because the medication also has anti-histamine action. Guess what, it didn’t help with the rash. Surprise surprise. So why are they on these meds?
Some ADHD, some anxiety, some depression, many off label use. It’s hard to say and extremely hard to justify. Here is an expert from an article from CCHR International: As Allen Frances, a psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task Force Chairman, stated, “There are no objective tests in psychiatry—no X-ray, laboratory or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder. There is no definition of mental disorder. It’s bull…. I mean you just can’t define it”. I say it’s bull too. Adults can tell a doctor what is wrong and how they are feeling, does that mean they necessarily need meds, of course not. May some choose meds as consenting adults, yes. Now when we are talking about babies and toddlers the level of bull in my opinion is egregious. No matter what the reasoning behind putting an 8 month old baby on a psychiatric drug is, there is no way to justify it. No test to give.
No blood level to measure. Look to the future. What chance at normal healthy brain, cognitive and emotional development do these poor babies have. I would bet on very little. The Washington post and Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on this problem as well. I am glad some mainstream media outlets are drawing attention to this horrible trend. Seeing as how I had no idea this was happening, I felt compelled to write about it and spread the awareness and help stop this madness.
Protect your children’s health. Don’t be afraid to question a doctor when they are recommending a drug no matter what type.
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