A review has been called for in the United Kingdom because children there under the age of 4 years old, in violation of National Health Service guidelines, are being prescribed stimulants for the treatment of ADHD, according to an article in the UK Guardian, Behaviour drugs given to four-year-olds prompt calls for inquiry. Family-based therapy has recommended treatment with such drugs only if the child is over 6 and all other options have been exhausted.
The figures, based on data from 479 GPs, show prescription rates were highest for children aged six to 12, doubling to just over eight per 1,000 in the five years up to 2008. Children aged 13 to 17 had the second highest rate at six per 1,000, while those aged 25 and over had less than one per 1,000.
I would definitely worry about the rates being highest for children 6 through 12, too, as that could spell an eventually rise in overall numbers.
He [Professor Tim Kendall] said: “There are two reasons why parents go shopping for a diagnosis. The first is to improve their child’s performance at school, and the second is to get access to benefits. There are always GPs that will do it, but it’s wrong to give a child a diagnosis without also consulting schools and teachers.”
Diagnosis shopping, I like that.
You notice that there are 2 reasons given, and while the 1st reason would indicate an interest in the child’s welfare, the 2nd reason has more to do with a families living situation, and it certainly might not be about doing the best thing for the child.
Want a cause for alarm!? Look at the following.
According to Nice guidelines, between 1% and 9% of young people in the UK now have some form of ADHD, depending on the criteria used. NHS figures show a rise in all methylphenidate prescriptions across all age groups by almost 60% in five years, rising from 389,200 in 2005 to 610,200 in 2009.
We began with a rate of 8 and 6 per 1000, but here we are seeing figures that approach 1 to 9 per 100. 1 per 100 is pretty bad, but not nearly so bad as the rate of almost 10 in 100, or 9.5 % that, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, we have here in the United States. I seriously doubt Great Britain’s ADHD rate could begin to approach the high 9 % mark in most cases. The ages given for these children in the USA, where the NICE [National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] guidelines don’t apply, is 4 to 17.
Bravo, United Kingdom! At least there is some concern there about the potential for harm in giving speed to children who have scarcely left their terrible twos. I’m still hopeful that maybe child specialists will find an expression for children who have left their terribles twos and entered their horrible fours and sixs. I have never felt that “sick” was a very good characterization for that phase in life either.