Tag Archive: ADHD

  1. ADHD (cont.): Environmental versus Genetic Factors

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    I said I’d talk about ADHD in more detail later so here it is. As it’s so complicated I thought I’d share a real life case study so you can see quite clearly what is going on in the boy’s environment.

    Tom is a 10 yr old male, diagnosed with ADHD at 5 yrs old. Pre-conceptually, Tom’s father had been a heavy drinker and his mother a smoker. Tom was bottle fed and weaned early, developing colic when he was 9 months old. During the early years of his childhood he was treated for an e.coli infection with antibiotics and thereafter became lactose intolerant. He had the MMR vaccination. Between the ages of 3 yrs and 5 yrs Tom only ate white food and it was during this period that he visited the local hospital for clear outs with Movicol due to an impacted bowel. His bowel only moved on the ingestion of lactose, when he suffered severe diarrhoea. At 6 yrs old Tom’s teeth showed signs of early decay and like his mother, he was prescribed fluoride drops which he has been taking for three years.

    Tom’s family live near a busy airport with overhead pylons only metres away. Tom’s father is a painter and decorator and DIY enthusiast. When Tom was 6 yrs old his father used fungicide in the garden which caused Tom to fit. Since then Tom has suffered from weekly headaches. He has a TV and computer in his bedroom and spends long periods of time in front of a screen doing little exercise. Unhappy and teased at school, his tantrums often happen before and after school times. His diet is high in saturated fat, sugar and artificial sweeteners.

    When Tom was diagnosed with ADHD, he was displaying a range of symptoms including: anger, disruptive behaviour, little concentration, severe constipation, poor teeth, anxiety, insomnia, swings from hyped up excitement to fatigue and strange food choices. These range of symptoms can feel overwhelming not only for the child but the parents, although the family decided against medication. They were aware of some of the issues but little realised to what extent Tom had been environmentally exposed. To find one cause for these symptoms would be impossible as would proof. This is a multi-exposed child that would need a multi-disciplinary approach.

    Ok, so this poor child has been exposed to many environmental factors, so why is the research heavily biased on genetics?

    Environmental versus Genetic Factors

    The question much disputed by policy makers and scientists is whether environment or heredity issues are more relevant. A fierce debate on the causes of autism/ADHD has pitted genetics against environmental toxins. Although we are aware that there is a genetic component in autism, researchers are now looking at whether the huge increase in autism rate might be linked to a combination of both environmental factor and genetic susceptibility. Children who are genetically susceptible, for example, being exposed to eating gluten or low levels of mercury may then go on to trigger autism. Unfortunately, research resources are currently heavily skewed towards genetic factors – funding for studies conducted on such causes of autism is 10 to 20 times as much as funding for environmental factors. “The advances in molecular genetics have tended to obscure the principle that genes are always acting in and on a particular environment. said Dr Bernard Weiss, a professor of environmental medicine and paediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Centre. He also said that “excessive emphasis has been placed on genetics as a cause”.

    And it is time for mindsets, especially those of people controlling research funds, to change. “It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,” said Dr Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis, the leader of the study. “There`s genetics and there`s environment. And genetics don`t change in such short periods of time,” she also said.

    There needs to be a nationwide shift in autism research, moving from studies on genetic factors towards potential environmental ones, such as infant and foetal exposure to pesticides, chemicals found in common household agents, and viruses. Along those lines, the dangers and effects of childhood vaccinations should be carefully investigated, too – this is likely to be a significant factor. What is quite clear is that there are many possible causative factors, and extensive research will have to be carried out to reveal more – there is no one “smoking gun.”

    As I said its complicated, but going back to America’s Medicated Kids it’s crystal clear to me that there are two camps. One, the child is just naughty, playing up, has issues at home, is being bullied or has been overloaded and overburdened with the above environmental and genetic factors.

    By the way the child above whose name has been changed is now completely 100% better. Yes it was difficult and hard going but the parents chose to find out why their son was ill, and not choose the easy option of a pill. They worked hard and it paid off.

    If you would like to do your own research on the topic of ADHD and environment, take one of the issues above: ie diet, stress, nutrient deficiencies, artificial sweeteners, gut problems, mercury, lead, organophosphates, pesticides, Electro magnetic frequency (EMF) and just google that word with ADHD and see what you get – you will be surprised!

  2. America’s medicated kids (cont.)

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    These are not my particular thoughts or words but I thought some of you may find this of interest – it’s written by the investigative journalist Evelyn Pringle.

    An American Phenomenon: The Widespread Psychiatric Drugging of Infants and Toddlers

    The United States has become the psychiatric drugging capital of the world for kids with children being medicated at a younger and younger age. Medicaid records in some states show infants less than a year old on drugs for mental disorders.

    The use of powerful antipsychotics with privately insured children, aged 2 through 5 in the US, doubled between 1999 and 2007, according to a study of data on more than one million children with private health insurance in the January, 2010, “Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.”

    The number of children in this age group diagnosed with bipolar disorder also doubled over the last decade, Reuters reported.

    Of antipsychotic-treated children in the 2007 study sample, the most common diagnoses were pervasive developmental disorder or mental retardation (28.2%), ADHD (23.7%), and disruptive behavior disorder (12.9%).

    The study reported that fewer than half of drug treated children received a mental health assessment (40.8%), a psychotherapy visit (41.4%), or a visit with a psychiatrist (42.6%) during the year of antipsychotic use.

    “Antipsychotics, which are being widely and irresponsibly prescribed for American children–mostly as chemical restraints–are shown to be causing irreparable harm,” warned Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, in a February 26, 2010 InfoMail.

    “These drugs have measurable severe hazardous effects on vital biological systems, including: cardiovascular adverse effects that result in shortening lives; metabolic adverse effects that induce diabetes and the metabolic syndrome,” she wrote. “Long-term use of antipsychotics has been shown to result in metabolic syndrome in 40% to 50% of patients.”

    The lead researcher on the study above, Columbia University psychiatry professor Mark Olfson, told Reuters that about 1.5% of all privately insured children between the ages of 2 and 5, or one in 70, received some type of psychiatric drug in 2007, be it an antipsychotic, a mood stabilizer, a stimulant or an antidepressant.

    Psychiatric drugs bathe the brains of growing children with agents that threaten the normal development of the brain, according to Dr Peter Breggin, founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), and author of about 20 books, including “Medication Madness.”

    The drugs themselves are causing severe disorders in millions of children in the US, he warns. “Substances like antidepressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic drugs cause severe, and potentially permanent, biochemical imbalances.”

    American Phenomenon

    A number of presentations at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in May 2009, addressed the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, including one titled, “Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: A Critical Look at an American Phenomenon,” at which Dr Peter Parry, a consultant child & adolescent psychiatrist, and senior lecturer at Flinders University in Australia, presented a survey on, “Australian and New Zealand’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists’ Views on Bipolar Disorder Prevalence and on Rates of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in the USA.”

    Dr Parry and his colleagues conducted a survey of child and adolescent psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand. Of the 199 psychiatrists who responded to the survey, 90.5% thought pediatric bipolar disorder was overdiagnosed in the US.

    In an October 1, 2009 article titled, “Medicating Our Children,” Dr Parry reports that since “the mid-1990s in the USA, some researchers have claimed that Paediatric Bipolar Disorder (PBD) frequently starts prior to puberty.”

    One of PBD’s main proponents, Harvard University’s Professor Joseph Biederman, stating onset “is squarely in the preschooler age group,” he notes.

    Parry explains that “PBD has been created by moving the diagnostic goalposts away from traditional concepts of bipolar disorder.”

    “In children,” he says, “episodes were redefined to last hours instead of days or weeks and, instead of manic elation, severe anger in children sufficed as mania.”

    “Unlike diagnoses like ADHD or depression, or simply accepting a child has serious emotional and behavioural problems in reaction to various stressors, PBD implies a lifelong severe mental illness requiring of strong psychiatric medication,” Parry warns.

    “In the USA,” he says, “the public is furthermore exposed to direct pharmaceutical advertising that can feed the natural desire parents of distressed and aggressive children have for a quick solution by suggesting a simple medication fix.”

    “The medicating of America’s children has become intensely controversial, highlighted by the tragic case of Rebecca Riley, a four-year-old Boston girl diagnosed at 28 months old with ADHD and PBD,” he points out.

    Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.

  3. America’s Medicated Kids

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    It was with sadness that I watched America’s Medicated Kids last night on BBC2. As a fan of Louis Theroux I think he coped with interviewing these families very well asking questions (that we all wanted to ask) and not invading their space.

    However, it still made for uncomfortable viewing. I’m writing a paper at the moment on ADHD with regards to genetics and environment. There are so many multifactoral reasons for a child to get ADHD, none of which were covered in this programme, and too many to mention in this blog (perhaps I’ll write again on the subject later).

    To me the children’s behaviour (despite being medicated) was in the usual parameters of being a child or a stroppy rude insolent teenager – nothing new there. In fact if you look at the children Jo Frost aka SuperNanny has to deal with – some of these so-called ADHD children were polite in comparison.

    The medication seemed to be used to parent. A kid gets stroppy, plays up, doesnt concentrate in class, and they are labelled with a mental health issue and zoned out and tranquillsed on the latest drug that has been manufactured for the latest invented mental health issue.

    We also did not get to see behind the scenes of what was really going on in these children’s lives when the cameras were off. When Louis interviewed the 10 yr old Hugh, he replied like an actor who had been fed lines – something strange was going on in that family. In fact something strange and sinister seems to be happening all over mid-America with the numbers of ‘ADHD’ soaring every year…. and yes it’s spreading in the UK as well.

  4. Kelloggs Krave – a new brand of cereal is unleashed

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    Looking at the ingredients of the new Kelloggs Krave (see below), I still think these cereals are too full of sugar. This particular one does not have the glucose fructose syrup but is still not good for those children who are sensitive to grain and dairy, and lactose. More and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD and learning difficulties and sending them to school on sugar is not the greatest idea. A protein breakfast with carbohydrate or porridge would give even blood sugar control throughout the morning.

    Cereal Flours (Oat, Rice & Wheat), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Hazelnut (4%), Chocolate (4%) (Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Flavouring), Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Lactose (from milk), Salt, Almonds, Colour (Carotenes, Annatto), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Antioxidant (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Alpha Tocopherol), Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.

  5. Horizon – Pill Poppers

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    Yet another Horizon programme popped up on our screens last night. Although nothing new to me I was left outraged and deeply saddened by its contents.

    I was outraged to learn from a professor that all of us are in the spectrum of ADHD –  I know what she was trying to say but thats still a very disturbing statement.

    I was outraged that 6 million people in the UK are taking statins, and the cholesterol level target we  now need to reach has been lowered.

    I was outraged that the drug companies are making a CURE for female sexual dysfunction when it doesnt even exist.

    I was outraged that a drug initially meant as treatment for severe erectile dysfunction was prescribed or got hold of by people who don’t feel they are “normal when in fact they are.

    I was saddened by yet another child taking Ritalin and students using it to be more clever before exams.

    6 million people I assume have tried diet and lifestyle changes before taking statins.

    Men with erectile dysfunction I’m assuming take high doses of garlic, ginko biloba, and zinc to get them functioning again.

    Children with ADHD I’m assuming have an amazing diet fully of omega 3, fibre, no additives, preservatives, caffeine and refined sugar.

    Women with sexual dsyfunction I assume aren’t juggling work, career, kids. Let’s give them one more thing to worry about – as if they havent already.

    The slow creep from family GP to prescription writer was starting to emerge.

    Do you know I’m so outraged that I think I’m veering heavily towards the upper spectrum of ADHD – someone get me a pill…………