American Academy of Pediatrics

  1. New push to drug children

    Statins for kids? The very idea is insane, yet millions of children are already taking these "adult" meds -- and a new set of guidelines aims to give these drugs to millions more, including kids still in elementary school.

    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says every child between the ages of 9 and 11 should be screened for cholesterol, even if they're in perfect health and have no family history of high cholesterol or heart problems.

    Forget that there's no evidence high cholesterol is even harmful to a child. And don't even think about the fact that supposedly high LDL levels in kids usually normalize on their own over time.

    Nope, none of that matters any more. All that matters now are the numbers on the blood test. And if your kid's number comes up, he needs to be "treated."

    That's code for those cholesterol meds, especially the statins that make up some of the best-selling drugs in the world despite side effects such as debilitating muscle pain, kidney and liver damage, cataracts and even a higher risk of diabetes.

    If there's one group of doctors out there who should be standing in the way of this, it's the doctors who supposedly know children best -- like the members of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    But that organization actually helped to create the new guidelines -- and, in fact, last year called for giving statins to kids as young as 8 years old. (Read about that here.)

    This failure to protect our children from over-medication is not a surprising one. Just last month, this very same group called for giving ADHD meds to children barely out of diapers. (Read the full story here.)

    You might say they can't keep their hands away from their prescription pads -- because even without these new guidelines, they've been busily passing out adult meds to children for years now.

    In 2009 alone, pediatricians wrote nearly 3 million prescriptions for cholesterol meds for kids, including 2.3 million statin prescriptions. So many kids are on these meds that Pfizer even created a chewable Lipitor just for children -- and it's already been approved in Europe.

    Thanks to the new guidelines, you can bet we'll be seeing it here at some point, too.

    Statins aren't the only adult drugs aimed at kids. Millions of children are already hooked on painkillers, antidepressants, BP meds, diabetes drugs and more.

    But all of these conditions, up to and including high cholesterol, can be treated and defeated without a single med.

    Now, you just have to find a doctor who still knows how to do it.

  2. Docs: No more TV for tots

    The American Academy of Pediatrics got it all wrong on ADHD with its outrageous new screening guidelines -- but the organization did manage to hit one nail right on the head.

    And that's with the new advice on television and little kids: Keep it off.

    The group now says the only safe amount of television for a kid under the age of 2 is no television at all -- and that includes "educational" programs and any DVDs that claim they can turn your child into the next Einstein, Mozart or da Vinci.

    See? We can agree on something -- although TV is a pretty easy target. After all, there are no studies that find television is good for children, especially young children.

    Instead, multiple studies have found that little kids who watch TV -- any TV, even the supposedly age-appropriate shows and videos -- have a higher risk of developmental problems.

    Other problems may not crop up right away -- but you can bet the remote control they're there: Children raised in front of a glowing screen have a higher risk of obesity, problems with social skills and even trouble doing their schoolwork... not to mention no time for homework.

    After all, who has time for homework when SpongeBob is on?

    And SpongeBob, by the way, is the last TV "friend" you want your kids spending time with -- and not just the under-2 set. A recent study found that 4-year-old children who watch this show have immediate problems with attention spans, focus and memory.

    It doesn't get any better after that -- a study I told you about last spring found that kids as young as 6 who watch the most TV already show the earliest warning signs of heart disease.

    These problems follow kids right through childhood -- and you don't need a crystal ball to see where it'll lead them in adulthood. One study this summer found that every two hours of daily TV viewing boosts the odds of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent, heart disease by 15 percent and death from any cause by 13 percent in adults.

    Good advice tends to be good advice, no matter how old -- or how young -- you are. So whether you have little ones at home or not, do yourself a favor and keep the TV off as much as possible.

  3. Docs told to drug unruly toddlers

    Parents, watch your tots: There's a new creep in the neighborhood, and it's not the local perv. It's the family doctor. The American Academy of Pediatrics is out with new marching orders, urging its 60,000 members to "screen" kids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder starting at the age of four.

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