Are ADHD Meds Affecting Growth- Your Adult Height?

ADHD2If your child has the symptoms of being very impulsive and hyperactive, or perhaps just very inattentive, they may have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).  You’ll hear that we are just better at diagnosing this, or that this is a pharma driven diagnosis so they can sell more medications. While I think both of those factors are likely true, I can assure you as a pediatrician in the trenches for the past 30 years, that we most definitely are seeing more ADD and ADHD. Those kids who have this challenge are also more severe than their parents and the generation before.

The CDC presents the following statistics which fit with my experience:

  • Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
  • The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007, and to 11.0% in 2011.
  • Rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of approximately 5% per year from 2003 to 2011.
  • Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.

These statistics can be found here…

I encourage parents who are dealing with children struggling in school, with focus, or attention issues, to get their child assessed. Once you discover your child has ADD or ADHD, what should you do? Many fear that stimulants will stunt their child’s growth. That has not been my experience. As long as your child gets enough to eat (the stimulants do suppress the appetite, so have a big breakfast with fat and protein and have a big dinner and bedtime meal) they will grow just fine. I encourage a lot of natural things as well to heal the brain including fish oil (1000-2000 mg daily), vitamin D (2000 to 5000 IU daily depending on your school aged child’s weight,) methyl B12, and methyl-folate to name a few. Some children focus better on a whole food – or “paleo” style diet, and getting rid of processed foods completely.

The recent study in Pediatrics, “ADHD, stimulant treatment, and growth: a longitudinal study,” showed there was no difference in adult height or significant changes in growth for those with ADHD on stimulant therapy. You can read more about this study here…

Other things that are very helpful are providing extra structure, organization, and homework help, and continue to uplift and be positive with your child. These kids feel that they are not smart when in fact most are very intelligent, they just under perform at school due to forgetting to turn in assignments, missing instructions, and doing poorly on timed tests. Most schools will allow accommodations, whether a 504 plan and an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan).

 

Dr. Paul

 

 

ADHD- Increasing Diagnosis World Wide and Why (or do you really want to know why?)

toxic2When conflicts of interest arise, the results can be insane.  Imagine a system of government and medical providers that promotes and supports big businesses that are largely the reason for the massive increases in ADHD and other neurological disorders affecting children. They then tell you that the massive increases of disorders you are seeing is just in your imagination.  Everything is unchanged.  We are all good!  This article published in Social Science & Medicine, “The impending globalization of ADHD: Notes on the expansion and growth of a medicalized disorder,” (you can find it here… ) presents facts that do represent reality but miss the real issue.

 

The study of children ages 4-17 showed:

  • ADHD increased by 42% from 2003 to 2011, with 2 million more ADHD children in the US over those 8 years
  • ADHD increased by 28% from 2007 to 2011
  • 11% of children in 2011 have ADHD with more than 2/3 taking medication. Read more here…

 

“We” diagnose ADHD so we can sell more ADHD drugs, and yes, to help these children, but I disagree that all the increase in ADHD is caused by more knowledge, the Internet etc.  While awareness certainly does increase our ability to diagnose ADHD, awareness has nothing to do with the cause.

So what causes ADHD? Wouldn’t it be nice to know, so you could have a chance to have and raise children who are not compromised by this brain chemistry disorder?

 

Genetic risk factors  are huge. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Twin studies showed that 82% of identical twins and 38% of non-identical twins were concordant for ADHD (both had it). You can find these studies here… If you adopt a child, they are more like their birth parents than adoptive parents when it comes to ADHD.  What many miss here, though, is that in each generation the severity seems to be greater. Too often I hear, “well I had ADHD and I did fine with simple hard work and effort”. Well so did I, but I can assure you my own children are so severe that medical school is out of the question.  No amount of “buck-up” and effort could overcome the severity of their inattention and distractibility. It would be like asking a child with severe autism or with cancer to buck-up!

 

Toxins, environmental (you breathe, drink, eat and inject them) are the triggers that make those who are genetically vulnerable suffer from ADHD and other brain chemistry disorders. There are thousands of toxins in our environment.

  1. Lead (Jusko et al. 2008)
  2. Methylmercury (Oken et al. 2008)
  3. Polychlorinated biphenyls (Winneke 2011)
  4. Organophosphate pesticides (Eskenazi et al. 2007London et al. 2012)
  5. Organochlorine pesticides (Eskenazi et al. 2008)
  6. Endocrine disruptors (Braun et al. 2011Miodovnik et al. 2011)
  7. Automotive exhaust (Volk et al. 2011)
  8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Perera et al. 2009)
  9. Brominated flame retardants (Herbstman et al. 2010)
  10. Perfluorinated compounds (Stein and Savitz 2011).

 

I would add: injected aluminum (in many vaccines), and glyphosate (Roundup) as two other huge environmental toxins.

You can also find my previous blog about these neurotoxins here…

It is not poor parenting

 ADHD children do much better with structure, tutoring, and parent styles that validate, nurture, support and build self-esteem while providing a safe environment away from distractions and high risk environments.  These kids are impulsive and risk takers.  Help them by providing an environment where the risks they do take will not destroy their lives.

Dr. Paul

IV Drug Use of Methylphenidate

IV Drug Abuse 1In this study, “Prevalent Intravenous Abuse of Methylphenidate Among Treatment-Seeking Patients with Substance Abuse Disorders: A Descriptive Population-Based Study,.” published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, 2015 we learn that IV use of methylphenidate (Ritalin) is very high. You can read the study here…

As a Pediatrician who treats about 1000 children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and a board certified addictionologist who treats IV drug users, this study is a wake up call to all physicians and parents.  The rates of ADD and ADHD have been on the rise for decades.  In the US, we have reports of ADD and ADHD now affecting as many as one in five boys (20%). This same group of teenagers is at highest risk for drug use and abuse.

The study, done in Iceland, looked at 108 adult IV drug users admitted for inpatient treatment, to assess the prevalence of IV methylphenidate (MPH) abuse. They found IV MPH was the most commonly abused substance (65%) and for 1/3 of them, it was the first IV substance ever abused.  Those with drug use that started in the past 10 years, MPH was the first drug they injected in 42% of addicts.

Diversion of medications, where the person obtains the medication (in this case ADD or ADHD medications) and then sells them on the black market, has been a growing problem. I see this in my addiction clinic where the medications Suboxone or Buprenorphine that are used to treat opiate addiction, may then be sold so the addict can buy heroin, and or make money from the sale of the Buprenorphine.

Physicians need to be aware of the abuse potential of MPH and amphetamine-dexamphetamine (Adderall) and for those at risk for IV drug use, I would recommend, if you must treat the ADD or ADHD, that you use Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) which must be swallowed and digested to have any effect. Parents and concerned significant others, if your ADD or ADHD loved one might be abusing their prescription, you should hold the medication and watch them take it.

While this is a small study and was done on a very particular high risk group in Iceland where the drugs available for abuse might differ from other parts of the world, I think the wide availability of MPH should put us all on high alert for abuse or diversion of MPH.

 

Dr. Paul

Autism, Genetics; New Study Shows Inflammation in Autism Brains is Universal

vaccine3The study, “Transcriptome analysis reveals dysregulation of innate immune response genes and neuronal activity-dependent genes in autism,” published in Nature 2014 (you can read it here… ) requires expert knowledge in genetics, and neuroimmunology to really understand. A few things are clear:

  • The microglia (brain cells that help the brain fight infection and pathogens and toxins) are perpetually ON for the autism brains
  • There is inflammation in autism brains
  • Authors feel the inflammation is unlikely the cause of autism
  • They demonstrate transcriptomic evidence for type1 interferon and M2-activation abnormalities in autism brains
  • They highlight thousands of genes and gene expression and gene regulation issues that have been identified to be associated with autism

 

It is clear by now that most cases of autism are not genetic in the sense that one genetic glitch or even several genetic glitches cause autism. It is also obvious that autism or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a huge label that includes so many variations of presentation, severity, and symptoms to make the label almost meaningless for an individual. I can say I am autistic, and be a top scientist or intellectual and I could be autistic and be non-verbal and severely handicapped, unable to care for my own basic needs.

What we really should be focused on is what the cause of this epidemic is. 30 years ago, cases were so rare I didn’t see any full blown cases in all my medical training and pediatrics specialization training from 1981-1988. There were rare reported cases for certain, perhaps 1 in 10,000 children at that point having recognizable autism that included language delay, stimming (repetitive flapping or spinning), and lack of social connectedness.

We now in the USA have autism (ASD) at a rate of 1 in 50 to 1 in 100.  The rate in Norway published in 2013 was 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000. Why the difference? What are causes?

There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of cases are caused by environmental triggers with infections and toxins leading the list.

I have no doubt that some of us have genetic glitches that make us less able to rid our bodies of toxins.  The MTHFR mutation that I happen to carry is just one such glitch. If I grew up in America today, got all the childhood vaccines with all of their toxins, drank the municipal water with all the herbicides and pesticides, and slept on flame retardant mattresses and was surrounded by the BPA in my plastic bottles and microwave meals, not to mention the lack of nutrition in my processed and fast food world … I would be autistic, certainly not an MD and certainly would not have finished college.

This study’s authors point out that in contrast to M1-activated microglia, the M2 responses mediate anti-inflammatory responses to damage caused by viral infections. The “M2 microglia also secrete brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), increase the production of neural progenitor calls and promote myelination” (again read in this study… ). It is this data that supports the hypothesis that viral infection may be a cause of autism, and may explain why some autism brains are overgrown (large) and why they found this exaggerated M2 activation in autism brains.

The establishment that insists on denying any link between vaccines and autism needs to realize that until we have the prospective studies looking at populations that are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated, compare them for risk factors (genetic, familial, and environmental), and follow them for 5-10 years, we just don’t know what is causing autism.  Until we can prove the cause, we certainly should be using the precautionary principle and not do anything that MIGHT be a cause.

 

So what should you do as a parent or parent to be?

 

  1. Do NOT trigger inflammation, especially while pregnant. Vaccines trigger inflammation. Avoid during pregnancy. Eat a low inflammatory diet.
  2. Do not give your newborn the Hepatitis B vaccine unless birth mom has Hepatitis B.
  3. Vaccinate slowly, carefully, and if you have one autistic child, are homozygous for MTHFR-C677T, or have a huge family history of autoimmune disorders, you may want to skip vaccines completely.  Obviously, some will choose to skip vaccines completely anyway (just be aware of the risks of that decision also).
  4. Eat organic GMO-free.
  5. Drink filtered water.
  6. This study sheds light on how the MMR vaccine might uniquely be a problem.  The MMR vaccine was changed around 1979-1985 to the MMR-II. (You can read more about that here… ) For details that would even scare your grandmother about what is in this vaccine and it’s side effects (this is even from the manufacturer Merck so no doubt minimizes risks) are provided in this document. (Read more about that here… )

Our autistic kids are the canaries in the coal mine, so to speak.  These were rare peeps in the wilderness just a few decades ago and we now have a thundering chorus of canaries.  Are you listening or have you had your ears tuned out by the noise of the status quo that stands to loose money if the real causes of autism are found?

 

Dr. Paul

 

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