Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We Have Sick Children

The latest statistics in the U.S.A. show that one in FOUR children are now on long-term prescription medications for chronic illnesses.

This does not include acute care medicines such as antibiotics for a sinus infection. It doesn’t even include over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as allergy medications, cough medicines,  and analgesics. It means medications such as for asthma, diabetes, autoimmune disease, high cholesterol, and “mental” illnesses.

This is great news for the pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders.

It isn’t such good news for the American public.  But it is so much faster for a physician to put children on long-term medications for what seems to be a pervasive problem in the very fabric of our society, than to tackle the underlying social, personal, medical, environmental, and familial issues head-on.

Both my children were 2 of those one-in-four children on chronic prescription medications. And, they were two of the one-in-five children with psychiatric diagnoses.[1] The psychiatric medications helped dampen some symptoms, but damaged them in the long run. But worse -- they did not get at what was causing their symptoms. The medications do not heal them.

What I feel is even more horrific for us, but certainly wonderful for the pharmaceutical industry, is that even when it turns out the person does not need the psychiatric medications such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, and even though they are deemed "non-addictive," our experience (and that of many others) is that getting off them can have withdrawal symptoms that rival those people describe getting off Heroin.

According to Maggie Kozel, M.D,’s article in the Huffington Post,[2]
A recent study by the AAP predicts that treatment of mental illness and mood disorders will soon make up 30-40 percent of a pediatrician's office practice.[3].

To put this trend in perspective, an earlier study that appeared in the journal Pediatrics revealed that 8 percent of pediatricians felt they had adequate training in prescribing antidepressants, 16 percent felt comfortable prescribing them, but 72 percent actually did.
A woman I encountered on one discussion board was complaining that her sister did not understand her children’s bipolar illness. The sister kept harping at her about her children’s poor diet. She commented with sarcastic bitterness something to the effect: “Yeah, Right. Like change the way the kids eat and they won’t have bipolar disorder anymore.”

I slunk away, not daring to comment. I could have been that same woman a few years earlier. Not that my children ate poorly. And I do not think that woman’s sister is correct. After all, my younger daughter got ill with “mental” illness in spite of not eating junk food. Pre-natal and too many other environmental factors come into play.

In fact, our babies are even being born with toxins already in them, and many are then exposed to many more avoidable ones during early growth years. The CDC says 95% of us have endocrine-disrupting toxins (BPA from plastics) in our body.[5] Newborn infants have an average of 287 toxins in their umbilical cords![6]

But I had no idea back then how much food reactions, and toxins — including toxins from things such as plastics coming in contact with the food — gut health, and the need for food supplements (Vitamin D, K, B vitamins, melatonin, tryptophan, EMPowerPlus and more) would feature so prominently in the mystery of both my daughters' severe, unrelenting “mental” illnesses of anxiety, depression, ultradian cycling bipolar disorder and schizophrenia spectrum (schizoaffective) disorders.

Yep. I was the skeptical woman who completely trusted the medical industry rather than, like the woman on the board with her sister, giving any credence to my father sending me information and food supplements. I am ashamed to say it – but I completely understand that woman. I blew off my dad, with all his hours spent reading the research literature, and even his lovingly packaged supplements.

Ah well. Live and learn. I am just glad my kids forgive me for my former arrogance and ignorance. After all, I was from a science background. I shared the same hubris as apparently much of the medical professionals we encountered do.@ I did not understand "Integrative Medicine," confusing it with "Alternative Medicine." And, I did not give credence to the thousand-plus year history of medical science the pharmaceutical industry has brainwashed us to call "Alternative" and to deride. AND, the term "Functional Medicine" had not yet even been coined.

@ Note: We now surround ourselves with medical professionals who are incredible - so present company are not included in the list of past arrogant medical professionals.

If you read nothing else, at least get some ideas from my book, and read these books by Dr. Doris Rapp, MD - pediatrician, allergist, and board-certified specialist in environmental medicine, and watch this video!!


 
 


Here is her website: http://www.drrapp.com/

If you have read my book, you'll know - our lives would have been different if we had read her book twenty years ago!


Resources:
[1]  NIH Educational Guide to Mental Health

[2] Little Pharma: The Medication of U.S. Children by Maggie Kozel, MD. -- The Huffington Post

[3] AAP department of Community and Specialty Pediatrics. "Resources Help Primary Care Clinicians Address Mental Health Concerns." AAP News 31 (7) 34

[4]  Jerry L. Rushton, et al. "Pediatrician and Family Physician Prescription of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors." Pediatrics 105 (6): e82

[5] National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

[6] Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns: A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005



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Last Updated: 7 October 2011

2 comments:

Darryl said...

The phenomenal rate at which these chronic illnesses are rising indicates a need to look outside the box. I hope skepticism of integrative/functional medicine diminishes as more stories of successes emerge. Back in 2003, I optimistically held out my basket for the fruits of peer reviewed medical technology to help my son, dx'd with pediatric bipolar. Though I heard of alternative therapies, I stayed on the sideline. My skepticism waned as my basket remained half-filled, his symptoms and side effects persisting despite optimal care and multiple medications. Our disappointment in progress was offset by the fact that we appeared better off, observing an overall reduction of symptoms. However, with ongoing difficulties, and seeing only lateral gains on the horizon, my convictions toward science started wavering. Still not ready in 2006 to fully believe nutrients were 'the cure', I considered, "Maybe alternative co-therapies could help to fill the basket 'just high enough' for things to be ok. Can't hurt, right?" Piecing information together, (including exchanges with Jeanie), it only took minimal coaxing from another frontier CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) parent, "You know too much to not... ." Working with an integrative MD, the apprehension shifted to hope. Navigating thru my son's responses to diet and nutritional therapies, fewer meds seemed required to attentuate his symptoms, and by mid 2007, no meds were being given. I'm continually in awe that this is our outcome, and offer Jeanie's url as a source of inspiration. Yeah for us!
Darryl (dad-wi),
Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation volunteer parent(www.bpkids.org)

Herb said...

Jeanie, I suspect your Dad considers you one of the finest human beings he knows.