The CDC Warns Americans Against Overmedicating ADHD Children

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The CDC advises parents of pre-school children to seek alternative ways of combating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Currently, the recommended treatments which are covered by most insurers are restricted to pharmaceuticals, but health officials are urging parents to look toward behavioral therapy.

This latest piece of advice stems from a discrepancy between what the country’s health bodies promote – and what’s actually taking place in health care facilities nationwide. Despite the variety of drugs available, the CDC’s recommended mode of juvenile behavior management is much more akin to what’s used in Europe.

The only problem is, few insurance companies will cover behavioral therapy, while most will cover drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. 75% of children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed this type of drug. Both are stimulants, which explains their skyrocketing popularity among young children and teenagers. It gives them the ability to remain focused which in turn helps their academic performance. What’s most troubling is how little we know about the long-term effects of using these enhancers outside of the immediate side-effects that include insomnia, lack of appetite and stunted growth. With ADHD becoming diagnosed more frequently than it was only a decade ago, we can expect more side-effects to emerge.

The biggest issue, however, is how to correctly define what ADHD actually is. As The Washington Post says, “Many experts argued that it can be impossible to distinguish the normal behavior of a boundlessly energetic preschooler still learning to navigate the world from one who has a medical condition that requires intervention.”

Behavioral therapy on the other hand has no adverse medical side-effects as it doesn’t involve the administering of heavy-duty pharmaceuticals. A new set of guidelines published by the CDC outline that it “can take more time, effort and resources than medicine.” However, the agency noted that studies show it can also “be longer lasting.” There are many different types of BT that include week-long camps, one-on-one sessions and parent-and-child activities that enable adults to better understand their child’s condition.

“Until we know more the recommendation is to first refer parents of children under 6 years of age who have ADHD for training and behavior therapy,” says Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director.

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