Children as young as two-years-old are receiving amphetamines for hyperactivity


CLEVELAND - The CDC says thousands of "active" toddlers are being diagnosed as hyperactive - with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and given medications usually prescribed to older children.

They estimate nearly ten thousand toddlers, ages two to three, across the country are being given drugs like ritalin and adderall, drugs that many would never think to give to a child so young.

"We're giving Adderall to two year olds? I mean, that's nuts! There's no evidence that it works," says behavioral pediatrician Dr. Lawrence H. Diller. "There's no evidence that it's safe. These are desperate measures."

However, one local expert believes that sometimes it is neccessary, but only as a last resort.

Max Wiznitzer, pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, agrees that two is too young, and he is not surprised that some children are being put on medication before other, better options are tried.

"It doesn't matter if it's one thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand or a million. The appropriate question is, is the diagnosis the correct diagnosis?" Wiznitzer says.

Data shows at least ten thousand children, especially those on medicaid, are being given medications like ritalin or the amphetamine, adderall.

Doctors say that can stunt growth and cause insomnia or loss of appetite, even in older children.

Wiznitzer says it's important that three-year-olds suspected of having ADHD are evaluated by an expert. Behavior modification and parenting skills should be exhausted first. And only then, according to Wiznitzer, should toddlers be given medications.

Wiznitzer says medication may be necessary if the child may be a danger to himself or if he is symptomatic in a variety of settings. He added that usually there's a family history of ADHD with these children, but evaluation, behavioral modification including how mom and dad react to the child, must be evaluated and proven not to work before medication should even be considered.

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