This is a topic I have written about on a few occasions. It happens to be in the news again as reported by Alan Schwarz in the New York Times, May 17th, “Thousands of Toddlers are Medicated for ADHD.”
This latest report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has found that: “more than 10,000 toddlers, two and three years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, outside established pediatric guidelines.”
Many pediatricians are outraged by these findings because thus far, there are no studies showing the safety and effectiveness on children this young. Dr. Lawrence Diller a behavioral pediatrician goes so far as to say these prescribing doctors should be “subject to malpractice suits if something goes wrong.”
Nationwide 11% of children ages 4-17 receive this diagnosis, and one in five boys will be evaluated with this disorder. For children between the age of four and five, Adderall has been approved, but only after an effort by parents and teachers to improve the child’s environment, has been unsuccessful.
Under the age of four these drugs have not been approved, because hyperactivity is considered developmentally appropriate. But often doctors who have tried and suggested everything will then use this as a last resort. For children who are experiencing anxiety or depression, these drugs can make the problem worse.
In past writings I have pointed out that sleep deprivation can often lead to:
For whatever reason a child may experience these conditions or behaviors, my advice is to always look at the child’s environment to see if there’s any extra or unnecessary stress; as well as assessing their sleep hygiene before jumping in and giving them medication. All children need a certain number of hours of consolidated sleep a day so they can grow healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
What’s your experience with this diagnosis in children? Did you have a good result using drugs or were you able to manage these behaviors with improved sleep hygiene?
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland.