pill poppin’ before kindergarten

Kindergarten. 1983. Remember? Table 1, table 2, table 3, table 4? Name tags made from paper bees hanging around your neck. Circle time, snack time, rest time, and lunch time. Singing songs, painting, and duck, duck, goose. You catch my drift. All your little friends sharing and playing puppet show with you. Listening attentively to the teacher and obeying the rules. Gold stars for good behavior. Learning how to tie your shoes.

Kindergarten. 2011. Repeat all of the above, circa 1983 Kindergarten. Additions include: Dramatic increases in learning disabilities, behavior disorders, restlessness, moodiness, ADD, ODD, depression, anxiety, and even bipolar disorder.

In fact more and more preschoolers and kindergarteners are being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and are being put on prescription medication. It seems like more kids today are learning how to swallow pills before they learn their ABC’s. A 2007 study found about one preschooler in 70 was taking a psychiatric drug, such as a stimulant, an anti-depressant, a mood stabilizer, an anti-psychotic, or an anti-anxiety drug. More than 1 in 4 children in the US now take regular prescription drugs, according to Medco Health Solutions, Inc.

Medco’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Epstein explains:

“Children are receiving anti-psychotics with greater frequency and that may be because they are viewed as less dangerous than the older medications and can be helpful for conditions that were previously treated with other medications. However, these drugs are not without their risks. There is evidence that the risk of diabetes and metabolic disorders from using atypical antipsychotics could be much more severe for pediatric patients than adults, and there is a need for more studies to understand the long-term effects of these drugs on children.”

A recent Parenting Magazine article states:

In spite of the growing number of young kids taking psychiatric drugs, these medications (with a few exceptions) are not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children under age 6. Why? Because little is known about how they affect the tiny brains and bodies of young children.

“We have very little research to show how psychiatric medications affect the developing nervous system, for instance,” says Dr. Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatrist and researcher. “This is a concern.”

Anti-psychotics are linked to rapid weight gain and metabolic and endocrine abnormalities. In one study, kids ages 2 to 6 gained an average of 19 pounds in less than 12 weeks on one anti-psychotic drug regimen.

The article also tells the heart wrenching and disturbing story of four-year-old Shelby:

 As the sun rises over Phoenix, 4-year-old Shelby wakes. She sleepily uses the potty, dutifully washes her hands, and then accepts a white capsule from her mother.

The blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl swallows the medicine easily. “And then she’s off—to take care of the pets, play with play dough, and just be Shelby,” says her mother.

The capsule contains 20 milligrams (mg) of Ritalin (methylphenidate), the prescription stimulant used to calm and focus children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After dinner, Shelby takes more meds — 2.5 mg of Abilify and .05 mg of clonidine. The preschooler has been on daily medication since she was 2.

This is what its come down to in the US today. Problem. Medicate. Problem. Medicate. Side effect. Medicate. Side effect. Medicate. What are the repercussions? How can we possibly see drugs as a solution? Pretty soon we will have a nation filled with over-weight, doped up toddlers mindlessly drooling while singing Row Row Row Your Boat. Oh wait, we already do.

~let’s support the health of our children, together.~

dr. lisa

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6 thoughts on “pill poppin’ before kindergarten

  1. Shame on the parents for allowing their child to be “abused” like this. Ask some questions, read some books, talk to people.. don’t be lazy about this. I could NOT imagine giving my boys a pill. I would pray about it first, I would completely revamp their diets first, I would talk to a second and third doctor first. Shame on these doctors for writting these perscriptions!

    • I was disgusted by the amount of drugs the kids are taking in America. I guess the motto is to get them on early and keep them on until death. Oh America. God Bless Big Pharma. (sigh)

  2. My cousin was diagnosed as schizophrenic when she was 6, all because her 1st grade teacher said that she had behavioral problems. The doctors diagnosed her with that as well as ADD. They began putting her on meds. She wasn’t getting better only worse. She gained weight and wouldn’t let anyone come near her. She was such a beautiful little girl with big blue eyes and curly blonde hair. After the medicine she would sit in the corner with her hair over her face and growl at people if they came near her. She even started drowning her cats in the pool. I know what your thinking… CRAZY! She is definitely CRAZY! They even went as far as putting the little girl on lithium which left her practically comatose. For years she was on these meds. Finally, after the lithium her mother couldn’t take anymore and drove her 2hours to a new specialist. They took her to an institution, took her off all meds and then rediagnosed her…. She is mildly autistic! She was taken off all meds, lost the weight she gained and soon was socializing again. She was not crazy but the meds were making her crazy! This was back when autism was not a common but almost unheard of diagnosis. The fact is that we are taught to trust our doctors and believe that they are the ones that know best but that is not the case. We need to ask more questions and follow our gut feelings. These are our children and we owe them that!

    • I am so glad to hear that your cousin was finally properly diagnosed. And to think all that medication and the side effects that consumed her childhood. I think a lot of the problems stem from physicians not being able to properly diagnose children at such young ages. A time when they are forming personalities and have little control over their emotions. As parents, we know our children best. I have read stories of children being put on psychotropic drugs after a 10 minute visit to a specialist. Crazy!

  3. Kindergarten today is NOTHING like it was when I was there in 1984-85. Toys are barely in the classroom. Centers (which used to be puppets and kitchen and dolls and legos) are now math and reading and writing and science and computers. I have a preschooler and Kindergartener this year. The preschooler’s classroom has LESS toys than the K’s. We are in one of the nation’s premier public school districts. Lack of creative time, free play, and being allowed to move their bodies freely certainly must play into so many children being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD/etc, because they are expecting 4 and 5 y/o’s to sit and listen and behave like 8 y/o’s used to. (P.S. we moved here halfway through this year, from a small, rural community where Preschool was still all fun and games but Kindergarten was just as much READ WRITE READ WRITE, so I don’t think it’s just a big city problem)

    • My daughter is in Kindergarten now as well. Her classroom has the plenty of toys and a puppet show station, kitchen, and more. All though I’m not sure how much time they actually allow for play. I agree that the standards are much higher and I was shocked to learn that my daughter needed to know 150 site words and they have her reading books that I wouldn’t have been able to read until second or third grade. It is A LOT of work for them. Although my daughter doesn’t have homework yet, but maybe that’s because she is in private school. ~Lisa

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