12:54pm

Thu October 18, 2012
Health and Welfare

Children Prescribed Anti-Psychotic Drugs at Alarming Rates

In light of last week's news that the number of poor children on Medicaid in Kentucky are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs at alarming rates for such diagnoses as attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder and depression, the New York Times reports that some doctors are making "no excuses" for prescribing psychostimulants in other locales for children of the poor.

Dr. Michael Anderson, a pediatrician in a poor county north of Atlanta, Ga., said he thinks ADHD is "made up" and "an excuse" to prescribe pills to treat what he "considers the children’s true ill -- poor academic performance in inadequate schools." Still, "I don’t have a whole lot of choice,' said Anderson. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.'"

Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining some ground: Prescribe drugs to struggling students in schools not to treat ADHD, necessarily, but to boost their focus and impulse control.  Alan Schwarz reports that Anderson figures that he is arming them with the only tool he has because these children can't afford family therapy or tutoring or behavior-based counseling or any of those other tools that other children might have at their disposal to help them learn.

Of course, Anderson is not without his critics. Many doctors, writes Schwarz, warn of the dangers of exposing children to the unwarranted physical and psychological risks of powerful drugs on everything from mood to blood pressure to the suppression of growth. (Read more)