Rising Rates of ADHD

tiggerJust as we have seen rates of autism, eczema, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and so on go up, this report shows increases in rates of ADHD within the Kaiser system in California, despite very rigorous criteria.  There is no question that rates of ADD and ADHD are going up, and as the report mentions, this can reach levels as high as 15%, or 1 in 7 children.  From my experience, I suspect the rates approach 1/ 10 boys and perhaps 1/30 girls.  Rather than better detection (always mentioned in such studies as if to say this may not be a real issue), I believe there are numerous causes.  What I do suggest is that we focus on causes that we can do something about.  Toxins (lead found in old homes from paint and plumbing, mercury found in fish and silver fillings, aluminum found in some vaccines, pickles, and near certain industries, arsenic levels that are found to be high in rice, pesticides used in non-organic produce, and plastics) are in my opinion the number one cause.  We are all genetically vulnerable, though some of us clearly more so than others, which explains why these disorders run in families. Video games have been shown to contribute to ADHD. Imagine spending hours a day in the intense interactions that occur in most modern video games, then expecting that child to sit still and pay attention to a teacher talking at a normal methodical pace! 


Do what you can to find things that interest your child. All children need to feel successful, and expert at something.  If we find their interests and build on them, we can go a long way to help their self esteem. Most of our children that are diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD are actually above average intelligence. They just may need a tutor, help with organization, help staying on task, and sometimes medication can be a dramatic help. 

The following article is sourced from Reuters, and can be read here.

ADHD rates creeping up in California

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK | Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:36pm EST

(Reuters Health) – More children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) now than were a decade ago, according to new research from a large California health plan.

It’s not clear what’s behind that trend, researchers noted. Possible explanations include better awareness of the condition among parents and doctors or improved access to health care for kids with symptoms, according to Dr. Darios Getahun, the study’s lead author.

Prior research has also shown an increasing trend in ADHD diagnoses, according to Getahun, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group in Pasadena.

However, his team had strict criteria for determining which kids had ADHD, requiring a clinical diagnosis and prescriptions for ADHD medications. Past studies have relied on parent and teacher reports alone, Getahun noted.

In an analysis of Kaiser Permanente medical records, researchers found the proportion of five- to 11-year-olds diagnosed with ADHD increased from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010.

Consistent with past research, white children were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than black, Hispanic and Asian kids, and boys were more likely to have the condition than girls.

On average, children were diagnosed when they were between eight and a half and nine and a half years old. Hispanic youth tended to receive a diagnosis at a later age than other kids – which could put them at a disadvantage, Getahun noted.

“One thing which is very important in ADHD is parents’ awareness… and timely diagnosis of the disease is very important so the treatment is effective,” he told Reuters Health.

“If you diagnose the child early when the disease occurs, the child may function better in school and also socially,” said Getahun.

One study published last year found Icelandic kids who got early ADHD treatment did better on standardized tests than those who didn’t get medication until they were preteens (see Reuters Health story of June 25, 2012: reut.rs/KXoQfY).

Common medications used to treat ADHD include stimulants such as Vyvanse, Ritalin and Concerta.

Not all kids with ADHD need medication – some get better with behavioral therapy or extra help at school. ADHD drugs can come with side effects, including appetite loss, sleep problems and stomach aches.

Just under five percent of more than 840,000 kids were diagnosed with ADHD during the entire study period, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Parental reports suggest that closer to one in ten kids and teens has been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and rates vary by state – from 5.6 percent of kids in Nevada to 15.6 percent of North Carolina youth.

SOURCE: bit.ly/PogxGc JAMA Pediatrics, online January 21, 2013.


Dr Paul

Pregnancy: Nutrition and Avoiding Toxins

Pay attention to your diet, even before you become pregnant, since your lifetime accumulation of toxins can slowly reach your developing baby.


  • – Smoke (This exposes you to carcinogens and methanol that will be converted to formaldehyde in your baby).
  • – Consume aspartame (11% methanol) in diet drinks and chewing gum.
  • – Eat pesticides (eat organic).
  • – Eat fish.


  • – Take your prenatal with folate (folinic acid) and add iodine if it is not already in your prenatal.
  • – Add vitamin D (up to 5000 IU a day).
  • – Add omega-3 fish oil.


Vaccines:   A premature baby should not get more than 5-10 micrograms of aluminum a day. The Tdap vaccine has 330 micrograms of aluminum. This is 100x the known neuro-toxic dose.

There are no safety studies about injecting anything close to this amount of aluminum into pregnant moms.  Protect your newborn by vaccinating all the caregivers for Pertussis. If mom hasn’t had a recent Tdap, she should hold off and get it right after delivering her baby.  




Dental Work and Pregnancy

toothI often hear this question- “Is it OK to get dental work while I am pregnant?”

My answer is this- I’m a Pediatrician.  My biggest concern has to do with toxin exposures to that unborn child. Do NOT get silver (mercury) fillings removed or placed while you are pregnant. If you have an emergency and need a filling, ask for the white composite filling.  In general, the earlier in the pregnancy the worse it can be to have radiation (x-rays) or toxins – such as fillings, with the silver (mercury) fillings being the most toxic. I would not, however, avoid necessary work, as to do so might put you at high risk of infection. If you are in severe pain, the stress of that pain on yourself and your unborn child may be more damaging than the minimal risks of getting the dental work done.  Consult with your dentist on the safest approaches and if x-rays and fillings can wait, then by all means wait until your baby is born.


Dr. Paul

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