In reality, drugs act much differently in children, yet few studies have been conducted to determine their effectiveness, safety and proper dosages.
Federal regulators have enticed or forced pharmaceutical companies to conduct studies on more than 200 drugs geared for children, but more than two-thirds of the medications given to children remain untested. Among those that were tested, it was found that:
- One-fifth of drugs that work in adults are ineffective in children
- One-fifth of the drugs were being prescribed at the wrong dosage
- One-third of the drugs caused unexpected side effects, some of which were potentially fatal
Researchers have identified categories of drugs that they say should be a priority for testing. These include drugs to treat cancers, infections, asthma, high blood pressure and hyperactivity, among others.
Hurdles still remain, however. Drug companies are often reluctant to study pediatric drugs because they represent only a small fraction of the market. Further, the drugs must be evaluated in four separate age groups, which makes analyzing data more difficult.
Parents are also wary about letting their children participate in studies for fear that they will be used as guinea pigs.
"They don‘t want their child to be thought of as a guinea pig or a rat in a study. What I try to explain is that if they are receiving a medication that hasn‘t been studied, then they are essentially participating in an experiment anyway," said Robert M. Ward, director of the pediatric pharmacology program at the University of Utah. Children have long been given “off-label” medications that have never been proven “safe” for their tiny, developing bodies. Some estimates say that as many as 90 percent of babies in neonatal intensive care units are prescribed such drugs, at the expense of three times more side effects.
It’s worth noting that the primary reason why drugmakers have not invested part of their multi-billion-dollar research and development budgets on pediatric drugs is because they represent too small a portion of the market share.
In other words, there is not enough money to be made.
But make no mistake.
Just because a drug has been studied for children does not make it safe. Even drugs that are meant for kids can have horrifying side effects like suicidal tendencies and blindness.
A classic example of the dangers surrounding medications for kids came just recently with children’s over-the-counter cold medicines. These drugs were over prescribed to well-intentioned parents looking to soothe their children, despite the fact that there was very little evidence that they worked. In fact, there was growing evidence that many of these drugs were fraught with side effects.
How Many Drugs Are Your Kids Taking?
The sad reality is that kids in the United States are being vastly overmedicated, both with drugs meant for them and those that have yet to be tested. Consider these sobering facts:
- Kids may be prescribed addictive protein-pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn. This is simply inexcusable. There is virtually never a medical justification to use these dangerous and untested for safety drugs in children. Avoid them at all costs.
- Another ridiculous and absolutely unnecessary use of drugs is the American Heart Association's recommendation for statin cholesterol-lowering drugs for kids.
- More than three-quarters of surveyed U.S. pediatricians have recommended over-the-counter sleep aids to children, and more than 50 percent have prescribed a sleep aid.
- Some 1.6 million children and teens take at least two psychiatric drugs, and close to 20 percent of them are under age 10.
- Two out of three babies receive antibiotics by their first birthday.
Well, a fever is actually a good thing.
High fevers are especially good as they are far better than any immunization at building an authentic, life-long immune response. When you suppress these fevers with Tylenol or another medication, you can cause far more harm than good. (I advise avoiding most all of the anti-fever medications unless your child is absolutely miserable or the fever is over 104 degrees F.) A tepid bath can be a soothing and effective alternative also.
Behavioral problems can also be treated without drugs. Kids with ADHD, for instance, often improve greatly by taking these simple steps:
- Eliminate grains and sugars from their diet
- Replace soft drinks, fruit juices and pasteurized milk with pure water
- Increase their omega-3 fats by giving them krill oil
If you are still skeptical about the toxic effects drugs have on kids, I urge you to invest some time to watch The Drugging of Our Children, a documentary by Gary Null. It is a powerful testimony to the urgent need for change.