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New American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines Promote Fraud

The American Academy of Pediatrics just lowered the age for labeling and drugging children with ADHD from age 6 to age 4 in its guidelines. As the FDA has not approved these drugs for children under the age of 6 years old, apparently the AAP is encouraging doctors to commit fraud.

The story was covered by the Boston Globe under the headline New ADHD guidelines could increase treatment in preschoolers and high schoolers.

It is reported that the professor who chaired the AAP guidelines committee had serious conflicts of interest with several major drug manufacturers.

([Dr. Mark] Wolraich, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, has served as a consultant to several pharmaceutical firms that manufacture drugs for the treatment of ADHD. Most of the 15 members of the guideline writing committee had no conflicts.)

If the ADHD labeling rate in this country is growing, lowering the age permitted for labeling children is certainly not going to shrink that rate. In fact, this lowering of the age is likely, in all probability, to accelerate that growth. Accelerated growth in the number of kids labeled with ADHD translates over-diagnosing and over-drugging.

An estimated 5 percent of American school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD or its cousin, attention deficit disorder, and questions have been raised concerning the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of the disorders in those with mild behavioral problems that fall into the normal range of behavior. Two studies last year found that the youngest kids in the class — who are more likely be less mature than their peers — were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Children shouldn’t be penalized for their immaturity. It is in the nature of children to be immature. When adolescents have been drugged since early childhood, the effects of drug withdrawal are often confused for “symptoms of mental illness”. This confusion is often never uncovered.

In a blog posted today, pediatrician Claudia Gold, author of the book Child in Mind, argued that extending the diagnosis down to age 4 is very worrisome. “There is a wide range of maturity rate,” Gold wrote. “A four or five-year-old who is among the youngest in the class is at particular risk for being diagnosed with ADHD for what is in fact a normal developmental variation.”

As I have heard it put before, “All toddlers have ADHD”. Generally they grow out of it without any sort of psychiatric intervention. We call this absence of intervention respecting the differences between children and adults. This is given the uncommon understanding that major problems are more likely occur after psychiatrists are brought into the equation. Major problems that often have a tendency to linger beyond the onset of adulthood.