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Babies on Antipsychotics?!

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momlogic's Vivian:Last week, the New York Times ran a sad yet compelling story about a boy named Kyle, who at 18 months was put on antipsychotic drugs to quell severe temper tantrums.

Kyle Warren

By the time he was 3, the poor kid had been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia and "oppositional defiant disorder" (um, isn't that a fancy phrase for "normal toddler behavior"?). He was on the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and a pill for attention-deficit disorder.

Did you read that?! Prozac! Sleeping pills!

The side effects had Kyle "drooling" and "overweight," but his mom likened the worst side effect to a coma. "I didn't have my son," she said. "It's like, you'd look into his eyes and you would just see blankness."

Fast-forward to the present, and you meet a very different kid. Kyle is 6, in first grade and doing very well in school. He's off the drugs (except for Vyvanese for ADD), and as it turns out, never should have been on all those drugs in the first place.

In fact, the article pointed out that more and more doctors are writing stronger scripts for younger and younger children, citing a 2009 Food and Drug Administration report which stated that over half a million children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs. Yet some doctors warn of the considerable developmental and physical risks these strong drugs pose to younger children, and say that research has not deemed these meds safe for this age group.

Another disturbing nugget of info: A Rutgers University study found that children from low-income families, like Kyle, are four times more likely to receive antipsychotic medicines than children whose parents are privately insured. Why? Because medicating these children is cheaper than asking them to participate in family therapy.

Can you believe that, according to Texas Medicaid records obtained by the Times writer, a whopping $96 million was spent on antipsychotic drugs for teenagers and children -- including three unidentified infants who were given the drugs before their first birthdays?!

If you read the article, you'll find it grows more obscene by the paragraph. Why would anyone put a BABY on antipsychotic meds?! Aren't all babies somewhat psychotic? And what of the long-term health risks to these children? Aren't there any liability risks here? Who is accountable for these poor kids?

Do any of you know of a very young child who was put on strong meds like these?


next: Discriminating Against Recovered Addicts Is Just Wrong!
48 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 9, 2010, 6:50 AM

I have 5 that range from 2-13, only medications besides antibiotics was during the first year of my 2 year olds life. She had a few defects then at 9 months she had open heart surgery. 2 weeks later we took the tube out, kicked the drugs & all 5 of mine grow like every other child should be allowed to grow.

Luschka @ Diary of a First Child September 9, 2010, 10:39 AM

Sometimes it mortifies me what is ‘legal’ just because you have a degree or two and can afford a good lawyer.

Mommitude September 9, 2010, 11:06 AM

At one time my son was three and on Tegretol as the doctor told us it had a small chance of increasing his speech, but as soon as we saw serious side effects we talked about how to get him off of it. The doctor didn’t want to assist us in the titration so we has to find one who was willing to walk us through it.

Don’t assume doctors always know what’s best. Find one that you like to give you a second opinion.

Anonymous September 9, 2010, 11:48 AM

Doctors have tried to do several things for my son’s temper and behavior and being harmful to others. I refused everything, because I felt he was to young. A little after he was 3 years old, things began to get where I couldn’t handle them. He was causing physical injury to me (busted lips, black eyes, bloody noses, chipped tooth, broken ribs, stabbed with a fork, fractured arm). When I went back to the doctor to discuss his issues. I told them that he has not slept through the night yet ever.Wakes up several times. Has bad dreams and sleep walks.
The doctor I spoke to this particular time said later he may be diagnosed with ADHD. I’m A.D.D, so I figured that was coming but really want to go as long as I can before we go through that process. The doctor also thought that maybe his temper and behavior problems were do to a lack of sleep. After his forth birthday he was prescribed over the counter Melitonin (a natural sleep aide). A low dose to calm him down at night and help him sleep. He sleeps better only waking up once or twice a night. And his behavior and temper has gotten better. He’s a very happy kid now. He’s an average 4 year old boy and I’m not scared to let him play with other children. He even started Preschool…. again (They asked me to remove him the first time). And so far no problems. I mean he still has regular 4 year old fits but nothing like before. I’m hoping in the next year to take him off them and see if he can continue sleeping well on his own. Funny how his issues were just because he could’t sleep. He was cranky. VERY CRANKY.
Its amazing what I went through as a kid and what I took as a kid to even get to the point of being diagnosed A.D.D. I’m in my late 20’s. Drs didn’t know much about those type of things. Now a days they give a med to any kid that may be slow, a little hyper, moody… sometimes their is a simple answer. Maybe the parents give them caffine, maybe they don’t get enough sleep. But no its easier just to give them a med right instead of getting to the bottom of the problem.

Renee September 9, 2010, 5:31 PM

This is amazing. Really. When my oldest was young and ADD was just making the news, they WOULD NOT prescribe medication before a child’s 5th birthday. Now, obviously there are extreme cases, but these extreme cases need to be diagnosed properly. Like I tell people, you show me a lab printout that shows positive signs that my kid has a chemical unbalance somewhere and I’ll let you prescribe him anything you want. You want to look at his behavior and tell me he needs to be on drugs I won’t take myself, I’m going to tell you exactly where…well anyway.

ashley September 9, 2010, 8:20 PM

Not dealing with ADD or anything…
But, at 2 weeks old my youngest was diagnosed with a tumor in her nose (hemanganoma, nothing bad normally, except she stopped breathing repeatedly) Even though they knew it was a tumor (though the type had not been diagnosed, because the biopsy had not been done) they put her on everything from meningitis meds to enlarged heart meds, even though they knew what was wrong.
Medicine is a big business and a lot of doctors will take as much as they can from you or your insurance. Really, really sad

Rebecca September 10, 2010, 8:23 AM

You really shouldn’t assume that medication is never necessary just because sometimes (most of the time, even) it is prescribed unnecessarily.

I just saw a horribly sad documentary a few days ago about a young girl (maybe 5-6) who has been on antipsychotics for years. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 3 (iirc), and the doctors went on and on about how incredibly rare it was for it to show up in someone that young. They also said that it tends to be much worse the younger it appears.

This poor kid was really, really messed up. I felt horrible for her and her parents, who had literally done everything that anyone could ask of them. She gets therapy very often but also needs multiple drugs to stay in control of herself (and they have drugs for her for when she loses control completely).

The parents didn’t want to send her to a live-in hospital, so they ended up getting two apartments across the street. One apartment is for her, one is for her baby brother. The parents switch off staying with each child and spend time together in one apartment each day, but they can’t live with her and her brother in the same apartment. She gets violent during psychotic episodes, and talks about how her hallucinations tell her to hurt her brother. “Her” apartment doesn’t have any knives, or anything else she could obviously use to hurt herself or others with.

What more would you have them do? Watching this documentary, I doubt most people would have tried as hard as they did for their daughter.

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Anonymous October 15, 2010, 6:24 PM

I was prescribed Seroquel when I was 14. I was “diagnosed” with insomnia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. And I was also on Vyvanse at that age too. It actually helped a lot in school though, so many I do have ADHD?

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