Posts Tagged ‘National Health and Medical Research Council’

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.

Experts Call For Homework to Be Abolished

December 12, 2011

I was once strongly opposed to homework, but I have since softened my approach. It’s not that I believe homework is a good thing, it’s just that I have observed what children do withn the extra time and I can’t say it’s productive. Quite apart from playing in the backyard or walking the dog, kids are more likely to spend their waking hours on the computer or watching television.

Whilst experts believe abolishing homework will free up time for healthy activities, the truth is that it will only result in more time in front of a screen.

CHILDREN are spending too much time “sitting around”, looking at screens and doing homework, when they should be outside playing.

New Deakin University research suggests parents should encourage children to play the old-fashioned way outside with mates rather than nagging them to complete homework or allowing them to watch TV or use computers, the Geelong Advertiser reports.

Associate head of research at Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Professor Jo Salmon, yesterday said pushing kids outdoors to play would help improve the health and happiness of children.

Parents needed to set rules around the amount of screen time children were allowed every day, and enforce a limit of two hours in total, Professor Salmon said.

They should also try not to place too much academic pressure on their kids and recognise that playing outside and being active was probably better for children than sitting inside practising spelling or sums.

While previous generations of children would come home from school, have a quick snack and then head straight outside to play until dinner time, most children now came home from school and propped on the couch, their bed or at a desk, she said.

Recently named one Australia’s top child health researchers by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Professor Salmon said while she was an optimist by nature, she was concerned for the future health of Australian children.

I was once an optimist too. I hoped that instead of homework, my students could help wash dishes or take on some other household duties. I hoped they could go to the library and borrow books. But that is not what happens in reality.

So I am now faced with a choice. Do I prescribe homework that serves as revision for skills taught during the week in class or do I just let them use the extra time for more television and video games?

Experts: Medicate Your ADHD Kid or We’ll Report You To The Authorities

November 21, 2011

I suppose it was only a matter of time.  The writing was on the wall earlier this year when experts were outraged when a mother, Christie Haskel, claimed that coffee had cured her son of ADHD.  The medical experts came out in force against Ms Haskel.  How can this woman treat her child with something other than a drug with pharmacological effects that resemble closely those of cocaine and amphetamines?  And coffee? That could damage the poor child’s health!

Now it seems they have taken their pro-drug, anti-choice platform a further step into the ultra-extreme. Now they are threatening parents – take the drugs or you’ll be reported:

EXPERTS have warned that parents who don’t medicate children with ADHD could be referred to child protection authorities under controversial draft guidelines being considered by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The practice points, to guide doctors who treat the disorder, were drawn up by an NHMRC expert working group to address community concern over the use of stimulant medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They state: “Consideration should be given to the ability of the child/adolescent and their caregivers to implement strategies. As with any medical intervention, the inability of parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns.”

Child psychiatrist and Monash University lecturer George Halasz says the situation should not be seen as unique to ADHD and parents who fail to manage serious conditions such as their child’s asthma or diabetes could also be considered to be failing their duty as a parent.

Dr Halasz said the new guidelines were a step in the right direction because they asked doctors to first try to find other explanations for a child’s behaviour before they diagnosed ADHD.

Firstly there is a gulf of difference between a parent’s decision not to administer ADHD drugs and a decision not to treat a child for asthma and diabetes. Secondly, this move does not promote trying alternate methods but reinforces what many suspect; that Ritalin and it’s type have become a one-stop fix for a condition yet to be fully proven.

The British Psychological Society said in a 1997 report that physicians and psychiatrists should not follow the American example of applying medical labels to such a wide variety of attention-related disorders: “The idea that children who don’t attend or who don’t sit still in school have a mental disorder is not entertained by most British clinicians.”

Another problem I have, is how can you even consider reporting parents for not giving their children a drug that has the following possible side-effects:

How about we report lazy doctor to the authorities who prescribe this drug without due process? How about we report bullying tactics by so-called experts? How about we let parents decide for themselves what is in the best interests of their children?

How about you think about the consequences of drugging such a large proportion of our young?


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