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Old November 20th 06, 12:50 AM posted to misc.health.alternative,alt.support.attn-deficit,sci.med,misc.kids.health
Jan Drew
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Posts: 2,707


17 November 2006

I SEEM to have stirred up a hornet's nest by doubting the existence of
so-called Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Another points out that children today sorely lack discipline.

And I hear from South Wales of a family whose "very modest" demand is for a
three bedroom council house because one of their two sons might have the
disorder. This is obviously a very divisive issue. It is also a hidden

Let's look at the facts. ADHD was first described by a Dr Friedrich Hoffman
in 1845, in his book of poems about "Fidgety Philip". The symptoms were
inattention, fidgeting, restlessness - and noisily tapping pencils.

This sounds like most children in my experience. They can't sit still, and
their attention span is shorter than a politician's.

Over a century later, doctors in the US - who get paid in proportion to the
treatment they say is necessary - realised this syndrome is a goldmine. ADHD
was unknown in my childhood, but like so many Yankee ideas it soon crossed
the Atlantic. And if we are to believe the medical profession, there are now
366,000 sufferers under the age of 18 in the UK.

Official figures from the Department of Health show that more than 1,000
prescriptions for powerful drugs are doled out every day to treat
behavioural disorders in children. GPs prescribed drugs such as Ritalin,
known as the "chemical cosh", on 384,000 occasions last year - a fourfold
increase since 1997. An estimated 32,000 children are being drugged every
day, at a cost to the NHS of 13.5million a year.

A whole generation is in danger of becoming drug-dependent because parents
and doctors want to "medicalise" bad behaviour, rather than control it
through diet, discipline and parental devotion. Consultant child
psychiatrist Dr Sami Timimi argues that medicalisation of childhood problems
is due to a search for "an easy cure that fits in with our fast lifestyles
and gives us a quick answer".

Real-life TV programmes also glorify misbehaved children, and pander to the
hand-wringing inadequacy of parents. Stroppy Johnny makes good telly, but it
also encourages imitative behaviour.

So far, so bad. But I also learn that drug companies secretly fund support
groups for parents of kids diagnosed with behavioural problems. In other
words, they are fuelling this Ritalin bonanza - despite evidence linking
their very profitable drugs to sudden deaths and heart problems.

Even Health minister Andy Burnham accepts that there is "limited
information" about the long-term effects of these drugs.

I am not a doctor, and do not pretend to medical knowledge. But my sense of
smell is unimpaired, and this business stinks.


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