In the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is an article that reports on the increased usage of psychotropic medications (Ritalin, etc.) on preschool children. On average the study quoted in JAMA shows a three fold increase in the usage of these medications on children from the ages of 2 – 4 years old.
Probably the most alarming part of these statistics is that these medications were not tested for children this young. As the study concluded, “Conclusions in all 3 data sources, psychotropic medications prescribed for preschoolers increased dramatically between 1991 and 1995. The predominance of medications with off-label (unlabeled) indications calls for prospective community-based, multidimensional outcome studies.” In case the wording appeared vague, the term “off label” means that these medications are being used in a way that they were not intended for and not tested for.
A related story comes from the Associated Press speaking about how the long term use of Ritalin caused the death of a 14 year old Michigan boy. An Oakland County medical examiner said that the young boy, who collapsed at his home on March 21st, died of a heart attack, the likely cause of which was 10 years of taking Ritalin. This means the child was started on the medication at the age of 4.
This disturbing trend has not gone unnoticed as CNN reported that, “Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new federal program that cautions parents about giving preschool children Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs meant to treat attention-deficit disorders.” Mrs. Clinton said that from 1991 to 1995, use of Ritalin among U.S. preschoolers increased 150 percent and antidepressants like Prozac went up more than 200 percent. She commented, “Some of these young people have problems that are symptoms of nothing more than childhood or adolescence.”