1. ADHD meds reach new highs

    Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder isn't a diagnosis designed to help identify and treat children -- it's a condition tailor-made to sell meds.

    And it's sold A LOT of meds.

    A new analysis finds that the number of kids on meds like Ritalin and Adderall has jumped an average of 3.4 percent a year every year since 1996 -- culminating in 2.8 million children on these drugs by 2008.

    As bad as that is, that's only part of the story -- because while the number of younger kids taking these meds increased slowly but steadily, the number of older kids on them positively skyrocketed: From 2.3 percent of kids between 13 and 18 in 1996, to 4.9 percent of them by 2008.

    If you're a drug company that makes millions selling these dangerous and addictive stimulant drugs to children, that's a Very Big Deal -- because you can bet most of those kids didn't suddenly stop taking the meds on their 18th birthdays.

    Nope… they're keeping at it, joining the growing ranks of the medicated young adults -- some of whom have been taking the drugs for so long now that they don't even know what "normal" feels like anymore.

    Other age groups also saw boosts, with the 6-to-12 crowd rising from 4.3 percent in 1996 to 5.1 percent on 2008. The only group that didn't see an increase was preschoolers -- and you can bet that's already been noted and is being worked on as you read this.

    But if your child or grandchild is starting to turn into a pain and you've been told he has ADHD, don't turn to the meds that have been linked to violence, bizarre behavior and even suicide.

    Turn to better habits instead.

    Studies have consistently shown that even the wildest ADHD mini monsters can turn around when processed foods, starches, and food colorings are taken out of their diet.

    One study earlier this year found dramatic improvements in 78 percent of children given an all-natural diet with no processed foods. And even an FDA panel has admitted that food dyes can send an ADHD kid spiraling out of control.

    Finally, never underestimate the power of a little fresh air.

    Another new study finds that kids with ADHD who are exposed to regular "green time" -- time to play in an open area outside, not just a playground -- have much milder symptoms than kids who are cooped up inside.

    Put it all together, and you get a pretty simple formula: normal food + normal activity = a normal kid.

    Just make sure your kids get their sleep, too. Keep reading to find out why.

  2. Safe ADHD meds? Don't bet your kid's life

    Posted by: on

    It's the kind of study only a drug manufacturer could love -- because it lets some of the most controversial drugs of all time completely off the hook.

    The drugs are ADHD meds, including Adderall, Ritalin and Strattera. They've been known to raise blood pressure and heart rates, and every now and then you see reports of a once-healthy kid who suddenly dropped dead while taking them.

    But researchers compared 241,417 kids between the ages of 3 and 17 years old who took an ADHD drug to 965,668 children who didn't, and found... well... in some ways they found just what you'd expect: Kids, overall, don't suffer heart attacks very often.

    As a result, they found no statistical difference between the two groups -- and that's a win for the drugs, right?

    Not so fast -- because there are some big problems here.

    First, the researchers did actually find a difference, calculating 4 cases of sudden death or cardiac arrest in every million kids who don't take meds versus 6 in a million among those who do.

    That's a 50 percent increase in risk -- but because of the small overall numbers, the researchers were able to chalk it up to chance.

    Still, the difference is there -- and it's hard to ignore.

    Secondly, the researchers never bothered to isolate the children we're most concerned about: kids with a preexisting heart condition (often undiagnosed) who might be more prone to the ill effects of a drug known to raise heart rates and blood pressure.

    Third, despite the big numbers being thrown around, the study in Pediatrics was just some hindsight mathematics -- not a true clinical trial.

    And fourth, the study was funded by an ADHD drug maker... so it's not exactly the unbiased research you want to stake your kid's life on.

    But let's play along here for a moment and pretend these drugs really are safe for the heart (and with what they do to blood pressure and heart rates, I have a hard time believing that).

    It still doesn't mean these meds are safe -- in fact, they're anything but.

    These drugs have been linked to everything from bizarre behavior to extreme violence and suicide -- and that's not even getting into the more typical side effects, which range from headache and nausea to hallucinations and addiction.

    All of these are side effects that can be avoided -- because most cases of ADHD are bogus anyway. Some kids are a little harder to handle than others -- but instead of discipline, they get drugs.

    Other kids are just less mature: Studies have found that the youngest children in a class are far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest.

    And still others are the victims of poor diet -- because processed foods can starve a developing brain and lead to serious mental health issues, from depression to ADHD-like symptoms.

    None of that -- from maturity to nutrition -- can be fixed with a stimulant drug.

  3. Missing out on meds

    Posted by: on
    From coast to coast, pharmacy shelves are empty of best-selling ADHD meds and their generic equivalents, including Ritalin, Adderall and Methylin.

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