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Antibiotic Use Down, ADHD Meds Up Among Children [AUDIO]

The number of antibiotics dispensed to children in the United States has dropped over the past decade, but there’s been an uptick in the number of prescriptions being given to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

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That’s according to a report in the journal Pediatrics. “Antibiotic use has gone down, anti-allergy medication has gone down almost 61 percent. Pain medicine use has gone down along with anti-depressants and there’s been a reduction in the use of cough and cold medications as well,” said Dr. Lawrence Laveman, neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.

From 2002 to 2010, the use of ADHD drugs grew by 46 percent, or 800,000 prescriptions a year.

“This is not surprising,” said Dr. Laveman. “Greater pressure is being put on school districts to address conduct and behavior issues in children and there is increasing pressure districts are placing on parents to seek a medical strategy to solve what is essentially an important behavioral issue and addressing learning issues through behavior. ADHD is a diagnosis of exclusion which means we have to look at every other underlying medical, educational and psychosocial issue that could be causing this child to have problems of focus, attention and organization. It’s imperative that the school district be stepping to the forefront on this being that the classroom is the place where the child is essentially in his or her workplace. The child needs to be in a positive environment for learning at home and at school and we have to correctly identify the factors that could potentially be causing a child to have difficulty.”

“We’ve gotten over a small hurdle of stigma in terms of people acknowledging that your brain is another part of your body, just like your liver, and that we shouldn’t blame parents when their children have liver failure any more than we should blame parents when their children have some kind of brain issue,” said Dr. Scott Benson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and spokesperson for the American Psychiatric Association.

“There’s also a continued pressure for children to do optimally at school and the demand for level of education is much higher.”

According to the report, there were 263 million filled prescriptions to minors in 2010, down seven percent since 2002. After taking population changes into account, that corresponds to a nine percent drop. Apart from ADHD drugs, asthma medicine and birth control pills also showed increases.

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