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Posts Tagged ‘Doctors’

We Should be Promoting Health Instead of Focusing on Obesity

June 21, 2012

It seems that we have given up on promoting healthy lifestyles and educating our students about nutrition. It’s now all about avoiding obesity:

The American Medical Association on Wednesday put its weight behind requiring yearly instruction aimed at preventing obesity for public schoolchildren and teens.

The nation’s largest physicians group agreed to support legislation that would require classes in causes, consequences and prevention of obesity for first through 12th graders. Doctors will be encouraged to volunteer their time to help with that under the new policy adopted on the final day of the AMA’s annual policymaking meeting.

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Doctors Create a New Normal by Over-Prescribing Drugs

June 10, 2012

Some doctors seem to relish the opportunity to prescribe psychiatric drugs. After all, from the perspective of a passive observer, prescriptions of such medication are becoming all too frequent. I wonder if it will get to the stage when those not on drugs will feel left out and marginalised because of it:

PRESCRIPTIONS of antipsychotic drugs given to children have doubled in only five years, data obtained under freedom of information laws shows.

Antidepressant prescriptions have also risen, bucking international trends to reduce the use of the drugs after they were linked to children developing suicidal thoughts.

A psychiatry professor at the University of Adelaide, Jon Jureidini, said he was concerned antidepressant medication use was increasing despite warnings about suicide risks.

He said antidepressants should almost never be used in children.

After the US drug regulator issued a warning about the risk of suicide in children and teenagers taking antidepressants, there was a 58 per cent drop in the use of the drugs.

Yet between 2007 and 2011 in Australia antidepressant prescriptions increased from nearly 22 prescriptions per 1000 children aged below 16 to nearly 27, data provided to the Herald by the Department of Human Services under freedom of information laws shows.

Last year there were about 14 antipsychotic prescriptions for every 1000 children, compared with seven in 2007.

Professor Jureidini said it was likely the increase in the prescription of antipsychotics could be explained by doctors prescribing the drugs for behavioural problems, or by conditions such as personality disorder being reclassified as bipolar disorder and then treated with antipsychotics.

”There has been a very significant increase in the prescription of antipsychotic drugs and we can be pretty confident there has not been an increase in psychosis,” he said.

Antipsychotics are recommended for the treatment of children with conditions such as bipolar disorder, in some cases. National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines say doctors can consider prescribing an antidepressant for childhood depression in the short term, where psychological therapy has not been effective or has been refused.

Professor Jureidini said more monitoring of the drugs and their side effects was needed, along with training for GPs on non-pharmacological treatments.

A clinical adviser to the National Prescribing Service, Philippa Binns, said those who were prescribing antipsychotics and antidepressants to children should be specialists in children’s psychiatric problems.

I plead to doctors worldwide to please resist from writing a prescription for drugs unless you have tried all  other options which have turned out to be unsuccessful.

ADHD Diagnosis a “Convenient Out For Lazy Teachers”: Dunham

May 1, 2012

I commend for her courageous piece on the rising rates of ADD and ADHD diagnosis. Ms, Durham refuses to pull punches, raising a view I have been quite vocal about – the dubious role of teachers in the diagnosis process. Deborah suggests that teachers may be taking the lazy approach instead of the responsible one. She also raises strong arguments about the lack of research about the long-term ramifications of taking Ritalin, the contribution of diet to a child’s mental state and the lack of engagement and stimulation in school.

I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible for doctors, teachers and parents to diagnose kids with anything other than  Attention Deficit Disorder? According to a new study, the rate that kids are diagnosed continues to increase by 5.5% each year, but are there really that many more kids with ADD and ADHD? It seems like this has become a convenient “out” for many lazy teachers, doctors and parents who don’t know what to do with kids who don’t fit the “mold”.

The rates of ADHD diagnosis in the developed world increased annually by an average of 3% from 1997 to 2006 and 5.5% from 2003 to 2007 in the U.S. But researchers wanted to know–as did we–how accurate these diagnoses really are.

Led by a team of researchers at the University of Basel’s Katrin Bruchmueller, 473 child and adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists across Germany were surveyed on how they diagnose people with ADD or ADHD. In three out of the four cases, the described symptoms and circumstances did not fulfill ADHD diagnostic criteria. In fact, many mental health practitioners were found to base their decisions on unclear standards.

For example, male patients were more readily diagnosed when they displayed symptoms such as impulsiveness, motoric restlessness and lack of concentration–all things that can be perfectly normal when growing up. Boys were more likely to be diagnosed than girls, and on the same note, male doctors tended to diagnose ADHD more frequently than their female counterparts.

In short, what the researchers found what that ADHD is over-diagnosed because doctors rely too much on their intuition and not on a defined set of criteria.

All of this is troubling because it means that kids are the ones who are suffering as a result. Instead of taking the time to accurately diagnose them (if there is even anything at all wrong besides just being a “kid”), they are put on brain-altering drugs which is risky for anyone, especially someone who is still young and developing.

More than three million kids in the U.S. take drugs for their supposed difficulty focusing. In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of these. And while medications like Ritalin may help increase concentration in the short term, not enough is known about the long-term health consequences–although some say drugs like this can stunt a child’s growth, other speculate that they can cause heart problems and even sudden death.

But is it really possible that three million kids in our country really suffer from ADD or ADHD, or has this just become a catch-all diagnosis by lazy doctors, parents and teachers?

We know that an unhealthy diet, sugar, processed foods, stress and a lack of sleep and exercise can all contribute to someone’s mental state. So, it’s entirely possible that our society has become so unhealthy that we are the ones creating these problems in our kids. And it’s not always synthetic drugs that are the answer.

The other issue that could be a major factor here is that kids are not engaged and stimulated in school enough. Taking millions of kids who all have different learning styles and trying to force them to comply and fit into one method of learning does not work. No one can possibly be expected to sit at a tiny, uncomfortable desk for eight hours a day in a classroom with florescent lights and the blinds drawn on the windows. Yet, when a child doesn’t conform, they are thought to have ADD.

Perhaps instead of jumping to conclusions and forcing our kids to swallow mind-altering drugs in order to fit our ideals of how they should behave, all of us–parents, teachers and doctors–should take more time to fully evaluate the unique learning style and personality that each child has and then alter how we interact with them accordingly. That’s not to say that everyone is lazy (because they aren’t) and there aren’t some legitimate cases of ADD (because there certainly are), but research like this points to the fact that we need to take more time and better understand how to consistently diagnose this disorder.

Think Before You Medicate Our Children!

December 30, 2010

Dear Medical Profession,

Whilst I am no expert and don’t pretend to be, I am bewildered at the rate in which kids are being prescribed medication in the US especially.  I read the Wall Street Journal article about prescription drug use among children and teenagers in the US, and I just shook my head in disbelief.

Below are some of the passages from the article that disturbed me:

These days, the medicine cabinet is truly a family affair. More than a quarter of U.S. kids and teens are taking a medication on a chronic basis, according to Medco Health Solutions Inc., the biggest U.S. pharmacy-benefit manager with around 65 million members. Nearly 7% are on two or more such drugs, based on the company’s database figures for 2009.

Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic. There is limited research available about many drugs’ effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines’ impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient’s lifespan are little understood.

But children and teens are also taking a wide variety of other medications once considered only to be for adults, from statins to diabetes pills and sleep drugs, according to figures provided to The Wall Street Journal by IMS Health, a research firm. Prescriptions for antihypertensives in people age 19 and younger could hit 5.5 million this year if the trend though September continues, according to IMS. That would be up 17% from 2007, the earliest year available.

So, one-quarter of kids in the US are on medication.  Is this acceptable?  Is this not far too high?  Is it going to get higher in the future?  Are we going to have half of our kids on medication?  Why don’t we put all kids on meds?  That’s where we are going, aren’t we?

As I stated, I am no expert.  I just find it hard to believe that so many kids rely on medication.  It doesn’t sit well with me.  Am I just behind the times, or is this generation of medical professionals comfortable with prescribing medication to kids in such high numbers without adequate research?

Yours sincerely,

 

MICHAEL

My Students Write Like Doctors

December 7, 2010


And it’s all my fault!  I wouldn’t know the first thing about teaching handwriting.  Whatever I learnt as a kid, I have over time replaced with a legible but decidedly mediocre blend of joined and block writing.  I wasn’t trained how to teach handwriting because my University didn’t think it was important.  The new Australian Curriculum has decided to make handwriting a priority (but cannot decide on what style of script to adopt).  I wouldn’t know where to start teaching handwriting.  Heck, I’ll need to learn it myself.

As a result, my students’ handwriting is shabby.  I’m supposed to be giving out pen licenses next year, but at this rate, my ten-year old students are more likely to get their drivers licenses first.

I recently read and article with a quote condemning the lack of formal handwriting teaching in classrooms.

Have you noticed the decline in handwriting? I recently gave a birthday gift to a 13-year-old boy, and got back a thank-you note written in chicken scratches. He had attended the public schools of an affluent suburban community.

I’ve seen handwriting books around the school which basically get kids to copy a given letter multiple time all the way down the page.  It looks so boring.  How do I go about teaching a skill which seems so mundane when I am trying to engage the students and make them excited by learning?

I’m interested in your experiences in teaching handwriting?  Do you teach handwriting?  How do the students respond?


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