infant mental healthPsychiatric drug prescriptions for infants age 2 and younger have been rising at an alarming rate.

The New York Times recently reported statistics obtained from the prescription data company IMS Health, the world’s leading health information and analytics company.

  • 20,000 prescriptions for Risperdal, Seroquel and other antipsychotics in 2014 – up from 13,000 the year before.
  • 83,000 prescriptions for the anti-depressant Prozac – a 23% increase from the year before.

Can anyone determine that an infant 2 years old or less has depression or is a dangerous psychotic in the making?

Of course not.

There are no medical tests to show that older children, teens or adults have the mental health conditions that psychiatrists have described and cataloged in their DSM manuals over the years. And there are no such medical tests for infants and toddlers.

Yet supported by governments and legislation, psychiatrists manage the pretense of being authorities in the field of mental health without having to medically prove anything or cure anyone.

The NY Times article cites a story of a boy who reacted with violent behavior to an epilepsy medicine at 18 months old and was given Risperdal, a drug designed for adult psychosis cases.

On Risperdal, Andrew began screaming in his sleep and talking to invisible people during the day.

His mother had the good sense to observe the effects of this antipsychotic drug and get him taken him off of Risperdal.

She told the newspaper “It was just ‘Take this, no big deal,’ like they were Tic Tacs. He was just a baby.”

Since legally doctors are free to prescribe any medicine for any reason, there is nothing to stop a pediatrician, neurologist, or child psychiatrist from recommending a drug that has never been tested or approved for children, let alone infants.

To his credit, the author of The NY Times article included remarks by some professionals critical of this rise in psychiatric drug use in infants.

Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Tulane University School of Medicine said, “There’s a sense of desperation with families of children who are suffering, and the tool that most providers have is the prescription pad.”

Dr. Gleason also stated that these medications can profoundly influence infant brain growth and that no formal clinical trials of the drugs have been done on infants and toddlers due to the potential dangers to brain development. Because of these dangers, she does not want to push for these studies to be done.

Dr. Martin Drell, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said he was “hard-pressed to figure out what the rationale would be” for the prescriptions.

Dr. Ed Tronick, a professor of developmental and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston said “I think you simply cannot make anything close to a diagnosis of these types of disorders in children of that age. There’s this very narrow range of what people think the prototype child should look like. Deviations from that lead them to seek out interventions like these. I think it’s just nuts.”

Additionally, we are told, “The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Neurology have no guidelines or position statements regarding use of antidepressants and antipsychotics in children younger than 3.”

The Big Picture

In 2014 when a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the 10,000 toddlers being prescribed ADHD drugs surfaced in the media, a reporter at The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR), a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog organization, did a full report with source references. Here are more of the statistics revealed by IMS Health for 2013.

0-1 year olds being prescribed psychiatric drugs:

  • 249,669 0-1 year olds are on anti-anxiety drugs (such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan).
  • 26,406 0-1 year olds are on antidepressants (such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil).
  • 1,422 0-1 year olds taking ADHD drugs (such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta).
  • 654 0-1 year olds are taking antipsychotics (such as Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa).

2-3 year olds (toddlers) being prescribed psychiatric drugs:

  • 318,997 2-3 year olds are on anti-anxiety drugs.
  • 46,102 2-3 year olds are on antidepressants
  • 10,000 2-3 year olds being prescribed ADHD drugs
  • 3,760 2-3 year olds are taking antipsychotics.

Growing numbers of prescriptions are being delivered to infants and toddlers despite the known debilitating side effects, deaths, homicides and suicides reported in older children and adults taking these medications.

Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta are psychiatric drugs that are given to kids diagnosed with ADHD. These are labeled Schedule II drugs, meaning they have a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are considered dangerous.

The CCHR article also reported that:

“ADHD drugs also have serious side effects such as agitation, mania, aggressive or hostile behavior, seizures, hallucinations, and even sudden death, according to the National Institutes of Health. And the Food and Drug Administration still mandates that all labels for ADHD stimulants state ‘Long-term effects of amphetamines in children have not been well established.’

As far as antipsychotics, antianxiety drugs, and antidepressants, the FDA and international drug regulatory agencies cite side effects including, but not limited to, psychosis, mania, suicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even sudden death.”

In Feb of 2015 a Wall Street Journal article asked “Why Are So Many Toddlers Taking Psychiatric Drugs?”

Sadly, the answer is that pharmaceutical companies manufacture them, doctors and psychiatrists prescribe them and a great deal of money is made at the expense of the mental and physical health of infants and children.