In news that’s almost too insane to believe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that around 10,000 toddlers across the United States are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and in turn, are receiving powerful and possibly dangerous drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall as treatement. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared ADHD to be the number one most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood, however, AAP policy on ADHD only covers children ages four-years and up, meaning there is no official diagnostic or treatment recommendations for children ages three-years and younger (i.e. toddlers). That said, if young toddlers are getting harsh medications for the treatment of ADHD, they’re getting these meds without any specific treatment safety recommendations or protocol in place.
What’s most alarming is that parents of toddlers are allowing this to happen. Just a little online research will reveal that no one yet knows what effects stimulant medications, such as those given to kids with ADHD, will have on two and three-year olds, because this age group hasn’t been included in any major studies regarding these drugs. Yet parents are willing to medicate their toddlers with said drugs. It’s insane!
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Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a behavioral pediatrician, tells TODAY Health, “We’re giving Adderall to 2-year-olds? I mean, that’s nuts. There’s no evidence that it works. There’s no evidence that it’s safe.” On top of that, Diller points out that the United States uses a full 70% of the world’s Adderall and Ritalin. Clearly, something is making parents and prescribing doctors resort to desperate measures to solve a problem not even officially recognized in toddlers. It could be that parents are taking checklists of habits meant for older kids and using them to diagnose toddlers. For example, the CDC has a checklist of behaviors seen in kids with ADHD that parents can use for their OLDER kids, but the checklist reads like a toddler 101 booklet. Some of the habits noted include:
- A child who fidgets.
- A child who runs about or who has trouble playing or doing leisure activities quietly.
- A child who is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor.”
- A child who often talks excessively.
- A child who has trouble waiting one’s turn.
- A child who interrupts or intrudes on others.
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Oh. My. Gosh. EVERY toddler you’ll ever meet acts this way at one time or another. It’s called “being a toddler” not “having ADHD.” Honestly, I don’t see how so many diagnoses of ADHD could be medically justified, even in older kids — which makes the notion of ADHD in toddlers beyond ridiculous. Before you allow a doctor to diagnose ADHD in your toddler (or older child) make sure you have all the facts. Many experts feel ADHD is over-diagnosed and the drugs kids take to cure ADHD can cause all kinds of side effects including damage to the developing brain. Before you assume your child is hyper, try assuming he/she is a child. Kids aren’t built to sit at desks for eight hours a day from the age of two onward. Kids are made to run around, let out energy, ask questions and more. That may look “hyper” in today’s rigid society, but these behaviors are in fact a kid being a kid.