Thursday, September 2, 2010

Drugging our Babies



This article in the New York Times was an eye-opener. It is the story of a young boy put on a litany of drugs beginning at age 18 months because of temper tantrums. The cocktail of drugs used on this baby is shocking:

Thus began a troubled toddler’s journey from one doctor to another, from one diagnosis to another, involving even more drugs. Autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia, oppositional defiant disorder. The boy’s daily pill regimen multiplied: the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and one for attention-deficit disorder. All by the time he was 3.

This little baby became a drooling zombie. His mother stated his eyes were blank.

The side effects of these drugs on a developing human are not completely known, yet doctors continued to prescribe drugs - often to treat the side effects of the drugs already prescribed! Now that he has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Activity Disorder - they state he should never have been prescribed those drugs in the first place. As a developmentalist, I cannot tell you how appalled I am that a baby was put on drugs of this magnitude and in this quantity. There is no way a doctor can know, with any certainty, that this baby suffered from these disorders.

The Legos that the children played with in one psychiatrist's waiting room were stamped with Risperdal, then manufactured by Johnson and Johnson. (The office has since removed them.) Somehow all those sweet smelling lotions manufactured by that company are starting to stink, in my opinion. Here are the side effects of Risperdal:

Anxiety; constipation; cough; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; fatigue; headache; increased appetite; increased saliva production; indigestion; lightheadedness; nausea; restlessness; runny nose; stomach pain or upset; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weight gain.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using Risperdal:
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); abnormal thoughts; confusion; drooling; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; inability to control urination; increased sweating; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, aggression, agitation, depression, severe anxiety); seizures; severe dizziness; stiff or rigid muscles; suicidal thoughts or attempts; symptoms of high blood sugar (eg, increased thirst, hunger, or urination; unusual weakness); tremor; trouble concentrating, speaking, or swallowing; trouble sitting still; trouble walking or standing; uncontrolled muscle movements (eg, arm or leg movements, twitching of the face or tongue, jerking or twisting); unusual bruising; vision changes.



Seriously - can you imagine giving a baby this drug?

Why, you ask? Because it's cheaper and it makes big money for pharmaceutical companies. Low income families are the biggest target of these drugs. I recently read a comment by a fellow blogger talking about the differences in television commercials in Canada and the US. She said Canada's commercials are about home improvement, cleaning supplies and travel. The US is about cars, drugs, and something else that slips my mind - probably because I mute all commercials or fast-forward through them.

Bottom line - if your doctor is prescribing any psychotropic drug for your children or grandchildren, then they absolutely need talk therapy. The number one point made in my abnormal psych classes was that drug therapy, without talk therapy, does not work. Especially for adolescents who have drastic mood swings, mostly caused by increased androgens. These are the hormones which control male sex traits and development, also influencing female sexual behavior. All normal developmental systems! It is only through talking with a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist can you know if your teenager also needs drug therapy. And if it was my child and the psychologist or psychiatrist wanted to use drug therapy, I would be tempted to get another opinion. I think drugs often mask issues that need to be worked on, and sometimes there is no quick fix. Sometimes parents are part of the problem, and what's really needed is Family Therapy. Just saying...

I know I seem to be on a drug rant this month, but drugging babies sent me over the edge.

49 comments:

Expat From Hell said...

Why does this remind me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Like young Americans (and old ones, too) are all lining up for Nurse Ratchett to hand out our meds. We need a Big Chief like you to throw a chair through the window! Great post. EFH

Nancy said...

Expat - Thanks - I will definitely do it, too!

California Girl said...

SO SO SO DEPRESSING. AS I'VE MENTIONED BEFORE, I TAKE 3 PRESCRIBED MEDS PER DAY, DOWN FROM 5 A FEW YRS AGO. I WEANED MYSELF OFF THE QUESTIONABLE ONES W/O MUCH FUSS FROM MY, THEN, DOC. IF MORE DRS ADMITTED THEY DID NOT KNOW WHAT WAS WRONG, THERE MIGHT BE LESS DRUG SCRIPS WRITTEN. I THINK DRS ALWAYS FEEL THE NEED TO FILL THE NEED. THE NHPR STATION DID AN HOUR LONG SHOW ON THIS YESTERDAY WITH TWO DRS DOING THE BACK & FORTH. MOST OF IT WAS ABOUT THE NEED TO BILL $120 PER OFFICE VISIT & HOW MANY PTS CAN BE SEEN DURING A GIVEN DAY, ETC ETC.

AS FOR THE OTHER TOP ADVTSR? PRETTY SURE IT'S INSURANCE.

Brian Miller said...

i agree...talk therapy is necessary if there are medications involved...some do help and i have seen it work...and i have seen those that were way over medicated that we had to cut back...a psych cant get that is he sees them for 45 minutes a month though...

Nancy said...

California - I know what you mean about being distressed about the info now coming out about the quantity of drugs being prescribed. I know that we are lucky that there are now drugs to help us - and for that we can be grateful. But giving psychotropic drugs to babies is over the top. I had no idea this was so much a problem, although every time we have a doctor visit they want to give us a drug for something. I worry about side effects mimicking illnesses - and then being given a drug for the side effects. Wow. I just don't know the answer.

But I will take a stand on babies and adolescents - they are developing humans - the effects on these children just cannot be known without longitudinal studies, and there has been an explosion of prescriptions for children 2-5 since 2007! What the hell???

Nancy said...

Brian - You have a good point. 45 minutes a month cannot give the appropriate time needed. It's a simple as that.

lakeviewer said...

Very true of children and most adults too. Doctors and pharmaceuticals seem to sleep in the same bed. "Ask your doctor about..." commercials should be banned!

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

lakeviewer - Seriously! When did that happen? A commenter from my last Rx post said she couldn't GET the meds she needed for anxiety when she was growing up. When did this change?

Jen said...

Oppositional defiant disorder?? WTF? How can they diagnose that as a DISORDER? I have another word for it- TODDLER. I also have a cure: Popcicles!

I would honestly laugh in the face of a doctor that suggested medicating my child for such a thing. Psh.

It scares the crap out of me that mainstream pediatricians are diagnosing drugs with those kinds of side-effects and unknown long-term effects for BABIES. Excuse me while I switch my child over to my naturopath.

Nancy said...

Jen - Some children have issues, no doubt, but I have to wonder how many are just toddlers and need popsicles - or their parent's undivided attention for a while. For the ones with serious problems, I have to wonder what the effects of psychotropic drugs are on the developing systems. And you're right - maybe time to seek out alternative medicines. Or at the very least - get their advice, then make your own decisions. The question for most people - money. They simply do not have the money to get second and third opinions. That is one of the reasons so many low-income children are on these drugs.

Gemel said...

Great post, people are to keen to pop pills, but now as you state they are doing it to their babies and children. But, it is not just this issue of drugs that is a concern, what about all the growth hormones in the food that they eat, the supermarkets are full of food that poisons all of us if we are not aware of what we eat. I take no form of medical drugs unless I have cannot heal myself, and eating only vegetables and grains, even these are now messed with to produce the perfect crops. We are all being drugged and poisoned every day, it makes me wonder, and very sad, what the young actually have in store for them in this unbalanced world that has been created..

Nancy said...

Gemel - Good point. And especially for low-income families that are just trying to put food on the table.

alaine@éclectique said...

I don't mind your rant, in fact one of your posts made me think about the half tab (over the counter) I was taking to get a good night's sleep. It was very popular for babies decades ago but a couple of years back it was banned for baby use and, there it is, still available over the counter! When I questioned my doctor he said it wouldn't do any harm and is non-addictive but a talk with my pharmacist last week said definitely not to take it every night. One of the side effects is 'confusion in the elderly'...if I could only find a doctor who cared! I'm not sleeping well but I have more time to read, even if in the middle of the night!

Friko said...

Nancy, may I respectfully ask what were the parents doing allowing doctors to prescribe these drugs and actually feeding them to their baby?

It is madness; it says something for Western culture that this is even possible and it says quite a lot about the parents themselves in my opinion, nothing very complimentary.
Dont pople think for themselves anymore?

Nancy said...

why was this baby evaluated to begin with? Um, parents not willing to figure out how to deal with the tantrums. "Doctor my baby is crying and threw a toy at me" "Oh he must have oppositional defiant disorder lets put him on these pills because I get a big fat kickback from this drug so your baby's brain will fund my next vacation to Fiji."

What kind of an idiot parent would even allow this? Are people so willing to be irresponsible that they hand their babies health to a doctor without even doing any research? Morons!

And on the other hand, we teach our kids to "trust the doctor" Well NOT ME. I say "go to the doctor as a last resort and research every prescription he gives you, and if you dont like what you find out, get a 2nd and 3rd opinion and if you still dont like it, dont take it. Simple."
Ugh this makes me so mad!

Nancy said...

Alaine - I have the same problem! I hate it.

Friko - I think parents get desperate, and they rely on their doctors to know best. My question is for the doctors - when did it become okay to prescribe these drugs to babies? And who says it's okay? The drug companies? Where are the studies saying it's okay for infants? Where in the world would you find a test group? Something is very wrong here, I agree.

Nancy - You and I are on the same page here. I really do think parents need to know more about human development. There are plenty of books out there - maybe time to crack one open. But we have turned into a medicalized society - we want our doctors to fix everything - and right now.

Von said...

Pills and popsicles coupled with busy parents who don't give enough attention all adds up to medicated kids.It's sick, very.

Nancy said...

Von - {sigh}

Cloudia said...

"Drugs are evil - unless we are selling them!"

Follow your heart, Nancy

Look at what they "knew" 50 or 100 years ago. Future people will agree with you!


Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Nancy said...

Cloudia - I do think we are going to find ourselves looking to the past regarding healthcare. My father-in-law was an internist, and believe me - he espoused preventative care (diet and exercise) and the minimum of intervention when it came to the body being able to heal. I remember him saying - most things go away on their own.

ρομπερτ said...

Being a young father, this was surely of much interest to read. Please have a good Friday.


daily athens

Nancy said...

Robert - How nice to see you!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I read this article also. Appalled.

ellen abbott said...

The definition of 'normal behavior' has been narrowing for many years. And if your child's behavior no longer falls within the accepted normal range then they get medicated into compliance. For me it was when teachers started telling parents their kids needed to be medicated because they (the teachers) did not want to deal with any kind of behavior in class. And parents don't really want to deal with behavior either so they are more than happy to have a little pill deal with the problem. We are walking zombies in thrall to the drug companies. Drug companies should not be allowed to market their drugs to the population...ask your doctor about. I should think that if I need that particular drug, I shouldn't have to ask my doctor about it. And what happened to doctors anyway? When did they stop doctoring?

I take synthroid for my thyroid but refused for 5 years while the numbers were just outside the normal range. I only finally agreed when they went way off normal. I take the lowest dose of cholesterol med because both parents died of stroke and my elder sister had a heart attack. The doc wanted me to take one of those bone meds for osteoporosis but I have refused finding the possible side effects to be heinous and now they are finding that those women who have taken it are no less likely to have hip fractures than those who did not take it. Because it does not make your bones stronger, it only prevents your bones from breaking down the old weak bone thereby making them denser. More dense does not equate to stronger. Every time I see one of those ads on TV it makes me so mad.

But doing this to your toddler because you just won't deal? Unconscionable.

susan said...

I noticed ex-pat's comment right away and I agree with you both. Only a week or so ago I read Big Pharma is working on a drug for anyone who's still sad a month after a bereavement but this takes that rotten cake even further.

Lori said...

This is a crime. Things like this need to wake us up. Very sad that things like this are happening more often then we realize. Damn...things like this really upset me.

Natalie said...

I am 100% behind you on everything you say. It is apalling.

I am living through hell with my kids and their 'health issues', but I would do ANYTHING before I would drug them.

Marguerite said...

I agree with you on all of this, Nancy. It is appalling and shocking, but it doesn't surprise me. Having worked in the medical field for many years,I have seen that dance between the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies on far too many occasions. I worked at a clinic for 10 years, where some of the patient's med sheets were 3 pages long. And prescribing all of these drugs was rewarded by the drug companies, with catered staff lunches, cruises for the physicians and their families, and many other perks. I got to the point where I could not watch it anymore and had to resign. And unfortunately, it has become a common practice to do this. So sad!

Nancy said...

Midlife - Unbelievable.

Ellen - You are so right about the narrowing of "normal" and also that any kind of behavior deemed "out of the norm" is ripe for drug therapy. My husband has been holding the doctors off for a couple of years from giving him more diabetes medications because his stats are in the "high normal" range. He says he no longer trusts their advice - this from a man whose father was a doctor!

susan - As if flat affect (no emotion) is more acceptable than feeling the pain of loss. It is as if we want to medicate everything away until we are unfeeling zombies.

Lori - Your story definitely falls into that range.

Natalie - You, too, have had your share of heartache. Sometimes meds are needed - just not for everything, all of the time.

Marguerite - I wonder if these same doctors know, or care, that they are losing the respect and trust of the people they are treating because of this relationship with the drug companies?

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Years ago, our daughter came down with a fever over a weekend. I took her to a walk-in clinic. We waited two hours. Megan was restless, in pain, pacing the waiting room. By the time the doctor saw us, she was so antsy that she wouldn't sit still during the exam. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic, then took me aside and said, "Your daughter is ADD. She needs Ritalin."

I lost it. I told this stupid doctor that we'd waited two hours to see him and right now, I was ADD and he could forget the Ritalin. He could forget our ever returning to his ridiculous clinic.

But this experience taught me how easily misdiagnosis occurs.

Nancy said...

Trish & Rob - Absolutely amazing! They had the gall to diagnose her in the few minutes they saw her in a clinic, and want to drug her? Thank Gob she had a mother that knew what to do with that stupid advice.

ain't for city gals said...

Boy, did the title of this post catch my eye!! Unbelievable...my siser actually quit teaching this year because the "administration" wants the kids drugged instead of dealing with energy...very sad and very real!

Gaston Studio said...

You know, some time people, in this case parents, need to use some common sense... and find a doctor that is truly qualified.

Nancy said...

aint for city gal - Wow - really? So even the teachers are starting to get concerned. We now have teachers quitting and people in health care quitting. If I was a conspiracy theorist - I might think something untoward is going on!

Gaston - I couldn't agree more. (Glad to see you back, btw!)

Jo said...

Nancy, I read that article about drugging babies, and it just made me heartsick. It turns out, as well, that a lot of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD -- and treated with drugs -- are just children who are younger than their peers, and have not caught up developmentally yet.

And that third thing being advertised was "fast food chains..." :-)

Nancy said...

Jo - Thanks for that third thing I couldn't remember - I knew it was you but couldn't find the comment. You were so right in that comment - we've been overrun by the pharmacy companies.

Nancy said...

Jo - And the developmental issues seem never to be taken into consideration - or the norms for boys and girls - it drives me crazy! Each child is different - they very often grow out of whatever worries their parents. My grandmother used to say - wait a while, they will change - and they always did!

Hilary said...

We're in a time where people feel the need to fix everything.. no matter the cost.. no matter the damage. We have a lot of answers and seemingly, we want all the answers. For every step forward, we tend to go overboard. I dislike how quickly our society turns to medication for everything. It's quite scary. Great post, Nancy.

Nancy said...

Hilary - The medicalization of everything worries me, too.

Pat said...

I can't imagine giving a young child so many drugs! That is just frightening!

Butternut Squash said...

Absolutely agree! Just had to let you know. Great post.

Just Two Chicks said...

I've been teaching for years, and cannot tell you how disgusting it is to hear teachers encourage parents to put their kids on drugs. I've had a large number of very active kids come through those classroom doors and have never needed them drugged to get them to behave in class. I'm not sure what has happened to us as adults that has allowed us to slip into this "easy" fix. What ever happened to finding alternatives and actually taking the time and having the patience to teach our kids how to just "sit." We're always on the go with cell phones, lap tops, video games, and television as a constant... constant stimulation... we are creating over-stimulated environments for our kids and then drugging them when they can't handle it. It's sickening...

d page said...

You Go, Nancy! I agree 100%. I advocated against these types of drugs in the middle and late 90's as my daughter and her friends were teens. Parents were already going that route even then. I wasn't popular among other suburban moms at the time-- but that didn't matter to me. I thinking about future consequences for our children.

Nancy said...

Pat - I actually think it's criminal.

Butternut - Thanks.

Just Two Chicks - I think you make a good point. We are overstimulated ourselves - multi-tasking, etc., and then get irritated with our kids because they're over stimulated. Maybe if parents were focusing on their children, without trying to do so many other things - they might not act out so much to get their attention. Having had two very busy little girls, I would have been very upset to have had a teacher suggest drugging them. It was bad enough having one on asthma meds that made her jumpy.

d page - Good for you. I think it really started around that time - now it's totally out of control.

Jayne Martin said...

What an important subject. Thanks for posting on it. When I was growing up there were no drug commercials on TV. They should be outlawed just like cigarette ads. But big Pharma owns Congress so, just like we won't be seeing Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices, it's unlikely we'll see the end of this scourge either.

Nancy said...

Jayne - I couldn't agree more.

Merisi said...

I read this article and found it heartbreaking.

The best drugs are evil in the hands of the wrong people.

Simonbuc said...

Very important points you raise, Nancy, and shamefully ignored by much of the media. As a friend of mine says who works in child psychiatric care (in London; the problem is international): "I get kids diagnosed with so-called ADHD, who spend all their time looking at computer or TV screens, who are fed on junk food and who never sit down to dinner or have a proper talk with with their parents - and people wonder why they have problems concentrating!"