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The Sins Of The Children

A study shows a possible connection between pesticide usage and ADHD in children. This is the result of a scientific study.

In the study, researchers who measured the level of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children found that those with above-average levels “had roughly twice the odds of getting a diagnosis of ADHD,” according to the study, which appears in the journal, Pediatrics.

Mary Winter, author of the article/interview in question, tongue in cheek, goes Hallelujah. She sees such a situation as a ray of hope for bereaved families, if she is to be believed.

One thing you wouldn’t do with this sort of information, if you were serious about doing something about the matter at all, is to pass it along to Judith Warner, and to ask for her input on the matter. Whatever input Mrs. Warner would have on the subject being a foregone conclusion.

My second thought: What would Judith Warner think? Warner, an influential writer and voice in the field of modern parenting, is perhaps best known for her “Domestic Disturbances” column for the New York Times. She is also the author of “Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety,” and, more recently, “We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.”

This is the opening salvo to an interview with Mrs. Warner. What was Mary Winter thinking!? (Oh, I don’t know. Maybe we can beat them at their own game.) Even bringing up the matter of pesticides, in this instance, must have just have served merely as a ruse to be dismissive of the whole idea.

Neither Mary Winter nor Judith Warner seem to want to err on the side of science.

“I think the pesticides story could be good news, if it led to the discontinuation of these pesticides, but for parents of children with ADHD, it’s likely just to lead to guilt (if only they’d bought organic!) and who knows if the guilt will turn out to be justified, long-term, as clearly these results will have to be validated by other studies. ADHD is very highly heritable, so this is clearly just one element in a complicated picture. And, of course, it’s only the best-off parents who will be able to afford the organic produce so, as always in our country, everyone else will just have to muddle through . . .”

50 years ago there was no ADHD (i.e. It’s not highly heritable). Today we take our “problem” children, and we apply labels to them. From 0 to millions, there is no way this is a ‘highly heritable’ condition. Do the arithmetic.

Judith Warner ends her interview by claiming that stimulants and anti-depressants work for the majority of children that use them. That work would be in “controlling symptoms”, and that work would only involve “short term” outcomes. If, as the saying goes, “children should be seen and not heard”, perhaps psychiatric drugs do the trick. If, on the other hand, children should be loved and not judged, well, with psychiatric drugs you’re on the way to losing the ball game.

What she doesn’t point to is the second epidemic that stems from the use of stimulants and anti-depressants for ADHD and depression in children. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were rare to non-existent in children just a few years ago. Stimulants and anti-depressant drugs have been known to induce mania and psychosis in a certain percentage of the people who use them. The long term outcomes of people put on these drugs is not good. Now these more serious conditions are beginning to appear in children and adolescents.

There is a lesson to be learned in all this, yes. Think before you act, and be sure to read the fine print. These drugs have all sorts of devestating effects you don’t want your children to suffer from. Seek a second, third, and fourth opinion if you must. Don’t let the first shrink with a piece of paper on his office wall convince you that your child is ‘sick’. The idea of “childhood mental illness” may be becoming increasingly popular among parents these days, but make sure it is popular among other parents, and not among yourselves. Surely, you can think of better things to do with your children than labeling them “mentally ill”, and doping them up on psychiatric drugs.