Last November, the journal Pediatrics published research that found medication use among children across the United States is dramatically increasing as more kids are being treated for diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using a database of prescription claims from children with private health insurance, they were able to find prescriptions for almost 4 million children.
The researchers found that over four years, prescriptions for children aged 5 to 19 increased significantly. Among two drugs to treat type 2 diabetes, the use doubled. In addition, the use of drugs to treat asthma rose by 46.5 percent, and the use of drugs to treat ADHD grew by 40.4 percent. The number of prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs rose by 15 percent, the researchers found. They also noted increases in the use of blood pressure drugs and antidepressants (1.8 percent).
According to one of the co-authors of the study, Emily Cox, as the number of obese children increases, the number of children with chronic diseases is also increasing. “That they are being treated is a good thing,” she said. “The concern is, are doctors more likely to use drug therapy over diet and exercise?”
Antidepressants are the second largest group of drugs prescribed for children under 18 years of age, second only to Ritalin and similar ADD/ADHD drugs. An earlier generation was given tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil and Toframil. These drugs had some serious, and occasionally fatal, side effects. The newer ones, including those called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), are more easily tolerated, but have not been widely tested on children.
SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Luvox. They help regulate levels of serotonin, a chemical in the body that is believed to affect mood. Serotonin levels drop off during early adolescence, and therefore may be related to depression in this age group. Low serotonin levels have also been linked to substance abuse problems in teens.
But why give young people such heavy-handed drugs, with their host of potentially dangerous side effects, when inexpensive, natural, and healthy alternatives are available? Low or imbalanced levels of fatty acids are now linked to autoimmune disorders, mood and behavioral disorders, and heart disease, among other health concerns, prompting even allopathic doctors to recommend fish oil to treat ADHD. Researchers at the University of South Australia tested a combination of omega-3 fish oil and evening primrose oil (an omega-6 oil) on 132 children with ADHD, ranging in age from seven to 12. After the 30-week study ended, almost half the parents reported that their children’s symptoms were improved.
Many of the other conditions for which children are being overmedicated can be treated naturally as well. For example, vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a major factor in the pathology of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.>
Children don’t need cholesterol-lowering drugs. They need proper nutrition and exercise, with judicious supplementation. But they also need physicians and practitioners who can properly diagnose and treat their conditions with healthy, natural methods. Our website has an excellent database of integrative physicians in your area who can give your family the healthy guidance they need.