By Dr. Mercola
Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has issued controversial draft guidelines that could put parents' right to choose whether or not to medicate their children with ADHD at risk.
There are clearly many superior alternatives for addressing ADHD than potentially dangerous psychiatric drugs that often contain different formulations of methylphenidate, a powerful psychostimulant drug that is in the same class as cocaine and amphetamines …
But if a parent decides not to use them, their child could be taken away by child protective services, according to the guidelines.
Could Your Child be Taken Away if You Refuse ADHD Drugs?
The guidelines, created by an NHMRC expert working group, state:
"Consideration should be given to the ability of the child/adolescent and their caregivers to implement strategies.
As with any medical intervention, the inability of parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns."
The problem with this guidance, as pointed out by anti-ADHD medication campaigner Martin Whitely in The Australian, is that the "strategies" being referred to are medications. He told the paper:
" … the only possible medical interventions are ADHD drugs and the implied threat that a parent's refusal to allow their child to be 'medicated' with amphetamines may see their child put in care."
Whitely is calling for the statement to be removed to protect parents' rights. In the United States, certain states have already enacted legislation to protect against this very issue, and prevent schools and child protection officials from forcing parents to give their children drugs. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you might think. More and more, we're seeing courts siding with misguided government officials in closed family-court proceedings. Parents are increasingly cut out of the decision-making process about what's in their child's best interest with regard to their health.
In the case of Australia's NHMRC, the committee's guidelines are already mired with controversy, as its original chairman, Daryl Effron, reportedly resigned because he was affiliated with drug companies that produce ADHD drugs!
Two-Thirds of Children Diagnosed with ADHD are Given Drugs – But Many are Misdiagnosed!
Medicating children with ADHD is a double-edged sword, not only because of the steep health risks posed by the medications themselves, but also because many kids labeled with "ADHD" actually do not have ADHD at all. Diagnosing ADHD really comes down to a matter of opinion, as there is no physical test, like a brain scan, that can pinpoint the condition. There's only subjective evaluation, and, for better or worse, teachers can play a significant role in this evaluation.
Along with inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior, the two "hallmarks" of the disorder, children may also show the following symptoms:
|Frequent fidgeting or squirming
||Feels restless or often runs and climbs excessively, or leaves his or her seat in the classroom when not appropriate
||Has difficulty playing quietly
|Talks excessively, interrupts often, and may blurt out answers to questions at inappropriate times
||Always seems on the go
||Has difficulty waiting his or her turn
|Be easily distracted from schoolwork or play
||Act and speak without thinking, or forget things
||Daydream a lot or not seem to listen
Of course, many of these "symptoms" could describe most children at one time or another! Only those who struggle with serious inattention and hyperactive or impulsive behaviors around the clock are candidates for the ADHD label, but it is frequently given to many other children as well.
A study published in the Journal of Health Economics determined that about 20 percent of children have likely been misdiagnosed. That's nearly 1 million children in the United States alone. The study found that many of the youngest children in any given grade level are perceived as exhibiting "symptoms" of ADHD, such as fidgeting and inability to concentrate, simply because they're younger and being compared to their older, more mature classmates.
In fact, the youngest students were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest in the same grade. And when you take into account the maturity level, and in large part normal behavior, of a 6- versus a 7-year old, you can easily see why. Given that two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed medication -- in some cases whether the parents agree with it or not -- receiving an ADHD diagnosis unnecessarily can be very harmful to a child.
After all, is it not common sense that ADHD is not caused by a lack of a drug, so how can medicating a child be anything other than slapping a chemical band-aid on the problem? It would seem that profit and control is at the root of the ADHD diagnosis epidemic, and that if the underlying factors that cause the unruly behavior associated with ADHD were addressed, namely, poor nutrition, any dysfunctional family aspects, societal and school dynamics, and chemical exposures, to name but a few, the real solution – having nothing to do with prescriptions – could be identified and implemented.
The Most Commonly Prescribed ADHD Drug Can Cause Sudden Death
Drugs prescribed for ADHD are not "mild" by any means. These are hard-core, "class 2" narcotics, regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a controlled substance because they can lead to dependence. The majority of kids diagnosed with ADHD will be prescribed these potentially dangerous drugs, the most common being Ritalin.
By definition, Ritalin stimulates your central nervous system and may certainly interfere with the delicate and complex workings of your brain and personality. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), side effects include:
|Sudden death in people who have heart problems or heart defects
||Stroke and heart attack
||Increased blood pressure
|New or worse behavior and thought problems
||New or worse bipolar illness
||New or worse aggressive behavior or hostility
|New psychotic symptoms (such as hearing voices, believing things that are not true, are suspicious)
||New manic symptoms
||Increased heart rate
|Slowing of growth (height and weight) in children
||Eyesight changes or blurred vision
There are reports of children committing suicide while taking the drug, and the long-term effects are unknown. Recently, researchers revealed that Ritalin appears to delay puberty, an effect that was previously unknown.
Non-Drug Options are Highly Effective at Treating Behavioral Problems Like ADHD
Drugging children with narcotics to treat behavioral problems should be a very last resort, only implemented after all other options have been exhausted -- if they are regarded as an option at all. This is what makes Australia's threat to parental rights to choose alternatives to drug so outrageous and downright dangerous to the well-being of their children! Other options exist that are far safer, and involve no drugs whatsoever!
So before you consider drugs, please consider implementing the following strategies first, in addition to making sure that your child is assessed in an age-appropriate manner before labeling him or her with ADHD:
- Eliminate most grains and sugars from your child's diet. Grains and sugars both tend to cause allergies in sensitive individuals. Even organic, whole grain can cause problems in many children so it would be wise to give them a grain holiday and see if their behavior improves. A 2006 study showed that ADHD is markedly overrepresented in those with untreated celiac disease, indicating that wheat may be an especially problematic grain worth eliminating as a precaution.
- Replace soft drinks (whether diet and regular), fruit juices, and pasteurized milk with pure, clean non-fluoridated water.
- Increase omega-3 fats by taking a high quality animal-based omega-3 fat such as krill oil. Research has confirmed that animal-based omega-3 fat can improve the symptoms of ADHD more effectively than drugs like Ritalin and Concerta.
- Consider a natural drug alternative such as the pine bark extract known as pycnogenol. It is one of over a dozen natural substances that have been studied to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children.
- Minimize your use of nearly all processed fats, especially trans fats as they disrupt nerve cell intercommunication.
- Avoid all processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, which may trigger or worsen symptoms.
- Clear your house of dangerous pesticides and other commercial chemicals. Pesticide exposure has been linked with ADHD.
- Avoid commercial washing detergents and cleaning products used on clothes, and replace them with naturally derived cleaning products with no added perfumes, softeners, etc. Permanent press or stain-resistant products also contain chemicals that can initiate ADHD-like reactions in sensitive individuals.
- Spend more time in nature. Researchers have found that exposing ADHD children to nature is an affordable, healthy way of controlling symptoms.
- Investigate sensory therapy and emotional wellness tools. Instead of looking for a quick fix, encourage ADHD sufferers to talk, and find out what emotions are causing issues. You may want to consider the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to improve emotional coping and healing. Stress is the frequently unappreciated and overlooked variable that can easily worsen ADHD. If the parents are having trouble in their relationship this can easily influence the child's behavior.