Children Should Be Prescribed Medication

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According to the CDC and a study performed during 2005 through 2011, millions of youth ages 3 to 17 live with some type of mental health issue which includes behavioral and emotional problems (Brody, et al., 2013; Table I). This statistic brings up the concern of premature and/or over prescribing of medication to these youth and the effect that it has on them. Continuing studies are necessary to provide reasonable guidelines of when a child or youth should be prescribed medication based on short and long term effects. In addition, earlier diagnosis can provide an opportunity for behavioural therapy or alternative therapy, such as music, in place of the immediate prescription currently being written. Further studies need to be
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In 2012, the Government Accountability office reported 4.5 times more likely to receive antipsychotic drugs such as Abilify and Clozaril than other children covered by Medicaid. In obtaining this information, it was also discovered that multiple drugs at excessive doses were being prescribed and some to infants (Smith, 2012).
Current Issues There are a number of concerning issues when it comes to the over-prescribing of these medications to youth. Among them long term side effects, over-prescribing of the drugs, the drug companies involvement and when should a child be prescribed medication instead of alternative therapy. The over-prescribing of medications to treat behavioral and emotional problems can result from the physician’s inadequate evaluation of the youth. What could be deemed as an emotional problem may stem from an underlying condition or just a temporary behavioural issue that can be addressed with parent intervention or cognitive behavioral therapy. Doctor’s scheduling and insurance company reimbursement may play a large role in the quick prescription writing of these serious drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Ritalin in 1961 for the use of treatment of childhood behavioral issues. The most common side effects have been insomnia, decreased appetite, stomachache, headache and jitteriness. However, there have been concerns of long term health effects such as liver cancer, heart attacks, violence and substance abuse (Lombardo,
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