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Experts: Medicating toddlers for ADHD may be dangerous

Parents have an obligation to protect their children from harm. For many individuals in San Diego, that sense of duty will bring them into a doctor’s office at the first hint of any medical issue their child may be experiencing. While seeking the advice of a professional is a good idea, it may be dangerous to jump to conclusions. In fact, failure to treat an issue appropriately could have dangerous side effects, as a recent trend demonstrates.

People who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be prescribed certain medications in order to bring symptoms under control. The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines set in place for diagnosing and treating the issue in children, but the standards do not extend to those who are 3 and younger. There has not been much research into how medications would affect children of that age group, though it is known that the risks associated with commonly prescribed medications include insomnia, hallucinations and growth suppression.

Despite the guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there have been as many as 14,000 2- and 3-year-olds diagnosed and medicated for ADHD, either through Medicaid or private insurance. Experts argue that some of the traits often associated with ADHD, such as hyperactivity, is appropriate among developing toddlers. One behavioral pediatrician noted that prescribing stimulant medication to these youngsters is dangerous, leaving the physicians who write the scripts vulnerable to malpractice claims.

The report notes that alternatives to medication often go unheeded. Anyone who is inaccurately diagnosed or improperly medicated should contact an attorney. Medical malpractice is a serious issue, and offending providers should be held financially accountable for the consequences.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “Among experts, scrutiny of attention disorder diagnosis in 2- and 3-year-olds,” Alan Schwarz, May 16, 2014 

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