In this health video you will learn whether prescription drugs are safe for your child.
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Lyle Hurd: Dr. Cass, it seems that almost all discussions relative to drugs and to vitamins, and to everything, are centered around adults. Now, I know, especially in the area that you’re very involved in, that there are lots of drugs that are given to children. I don’t know that any of them have been tested on children. I know that many times they are taking two drugs, may have never been tested for interactions. What kind of problems does that look like it could generate? And, how much do people know about what to give children? Dr. Hyla Cass: We have a real problem right now because the pharmaceutical industry has marketed to psychiatrists to begin with, for adults. Then the age has…been pushed down lower and lower and lower. And, I’m not sure this is the best way to go about things because these drugs have not been tested on children. Children are on huge combinations of medications. Kids—very, very young children, are on some serious combinations of psychotropic meds. So, they’re being diagnosed—there’s a lot of bi-polar diagnosis in children. We don’t know that they’re bi-polar. That’s a diagnosis that’s based on—the kid has mood swings or tantrums. Well, it could be that the child has blood sugar swings. They may not be eating appropriately; they’re not getting the right foods. They may be deficient in some nutrients like chromium to balance their blood sugar. These [are] things that we need to address way before putting them on medications. And then, the whole ADD thing with kids on Ritalin and aderol and so on I think is for the convenience of the schools. They’re not necessarily learning better or doing better; they’re maybe acting up less in class, but they’re also suffering from suppressed appetite and stunted growth. We have no idea what this is doing to their brain cells but just look at this—these are developing brains—you take very young children, or any child until they’re fully developed, and their brains are being given these drugs that are actually blocking certain neurotransmitters and certain receptor sites; this has to have some effect. And then, these children grow up—what kind of a brain are they going to be working with? And, are they going to be dependent on some sort of medication for their whole life? Or, are they going to turn to drugs of abuse because their brain is used to having that kind of stimulation? Lyle Hurd: So, it’s really a conundrum that we have to get very, very involved in, and set some ground rules as opposed to everyone just saying this is what we’re going to do and really have no… Dr. Hyla Cass: The doctor said. The doctor said this is what we’re supposed to do so that’s what we’re doing. People have to question their doctor’s advice. And, this is happening! I mean, I get lots and lots of calls; I’m a psychiatrist in practice. And, I get calls from people saying, “The psychiatrist recommended that my child be on Ritalin, aderol, Prozac, Celexa” and some of the antipsychotics and some of the meds for bi-polar. And, the parent says, “I don’t want to do that. Do you have some alternatives?” So, I’m not going to say, well okay, instead of the antidepressant take St. John’s Wort or 5 HTP. Instead of a stimulant take tyrosine, even though those work, but I first want to get a good diagnosis from my standpoint, not a diagnoses based on symptoms but a diagnosis based on biochemistry. So, I’ll test the child’s biochemistry, I’ll see what their blood sugar level looks like. I’ll check their neurotransmitters; you can do a urine neurotransmitter test. You can test their vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids with a urine test. So, we do this testing or we do blood tests. And, I get to see what’s really going on chemically in that child and then give a very specific, tailor- made program for that child so that their brain can be functioning optimally. And so, we’re not just putting a drug on top of a drug, on top of a drug without really addressing what’s the underlying issue and so