Thursday, October 20, 2005

Children on Sleeping Pills!

The use of sleeping pills in children and adolescents has risen 85 percent between 2000-2004. This is yet another sign that parents and physicians are increasingly turning to prescription medications to solve their children’s health and behavioral problems.

In 2004, more than 181,000 children and young adults between 10 and 19 were given sleeping pills. This is out of 41 million people in that age range, according to a study by Medco Health Solutions, a managed care company. Because no sleep medication had been approved for use in children under 18, few of these prescriptions have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Still, doctors commonly use medications for patients and disorders for which the drugs have never received FDA approval, particularly when whose patients are children.

Medco found that 15 percent of people under the age of 20 who received sleeping pills were also on medication for ADHD. It is known that most ADHD meds can cause insomnia. So are children being treated for insomnia caused by hyperactivity or insomnia caused from the ADHD medication?

According to the New York Times, the rising drug use is partially due to the expensive marketing campaigns of makers such as Lunesta. Experts expect sleeping pill use to increase even faster this year.

The trend of medicating our youth has become alarming and, in some cases, a vicious cycle. Consider this; children and teens suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, which can make them hyperactive, are often misdiagnosed with ADHD and given a stimulant. Insomnia is one of the most common side effects of these stimulant ADHD medications - Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall. These children then need another drug to counteract the insomnia, when all the while, all they really need

It is therefore suggested that such problems be treated by teaching the child relaxation techniques and other sleep oriented behaviors to help them sleep.

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