Apropos of nothing

The FEHBlog is a faithful reader of the Wall Street Journal but he was unaware until this weekend of the paper’s Experts blog. The Journal posted on the web this list of top health posts from that blog in 2015. The first one nearly caused the FEHBlog to fall off his chair. 

Psychiatric drugs are now being given to infants and toddlers in unprecedented numbers. 

An analysis of 2013 IMS Data, found that over 274,000 infants (0-1 year olds) and some 370,000 toddlers (1-3 years age) in the U.S. were on antianxiety (e.g. Xanax) and antidepressant (e.g. Prozac) drugs. This report also found over 1,400 infants were on ADHD drugs. 

A 2014 Georgia Medicaid analyses led by Susanna Visser at the CDC (see a video of her fascinating talk) when extrapolated nationwide by the New York Times found that over 10,000 toddlers were put on ADHD treatments. (Dr. Visser is currently working on national estimates but believes that the estimate from the Georgia data is conservative.)
Prescriptions of powerful antipsychotics such as Risperdal for infants and very young children have also sharply risen. 

At least the expert concludes that this trend is misguided. How can doctors prescribe these drugs to little children whose brains are developing?   As the expert, a psychiatrist, concludes, “This is a complex problem but as the social reformer Frederick Douglass noted over a hundred years ago, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Healers heal thyself.

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