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September 2007

Children drugs

How protected are children from hard marketing of variety of kids' drugs? Apparently, not well. It is not surprising in today's drug-abducted medicine. A recent action of the FDA to curb the marketing of cold medicines for children provokes some thoughts on children and drugs.

  The FDA action was initiated by the city of Baltimore official's complaining about ill effects of many over-the-counter cough and cold drugs for kids. It touches the subject of how protected are those most vulnerable from side effects of medications. Even doctors can't tell how any particular drug will affect one's health, and the risk of adverse reaction is always present. It is particularly high with babies and small children, whose bodies are small and functionally still developing.

If their health is compromised, it makes them even more vulnerable. Apparently, drug industry is not paying enough attention to that fact.

But it is not only the industry to blame. For many a parent it is easier to reach out for a medication, than to address the likely cause of child's health problem. If the child succumbs to a cold, flu, or some other form of infection, it is a

 warning sign

that its body may not be getting what it needs nutritionally, that its unhealthy lifestyle may be catching up with its health, that it may be having underlying health condition weakening its immune system, that it may be hurting emotionally - or any of those combined.

Sadly, most doctors are guilty of the same sin, going for easy, convenient and officially encouraged practice of medicating, rather than laboring through difficulties of trying to find and correct the underlying cause.

And potential drug side effects are not the main problem here.

 Treating children with medications instead of building their overall health can have two serious consequences. One is that it allows for chronic health conditions to form, likely only becoming worse in their adulthood. The other is that children may blindly acquire that same unhealthy habit of use, or even abuse of medications.

In Great Britain, number of anti-depressants prescriptions to those under the age of 16 has quadrupled in the last decade (BBC). At the same time, the rate of mental health problems in that age group hasn't changed significantly. Doctors are denying handing out the pills too easily, instead of exploring other viable options. Does it sound believable?

It isn't any better here, in the U.S. The rate of children and youth hampered in their daily activities for three or more months as a result of chronic illness was four times higher in 2004 than back in 1960 (JAMA). That indicates quite clearly that we are not doing it right. While it will take awhile to change what has become a part of today's culture, when it comes to your own life, it is only your call.

Just take good care of your child, and yourself. R TOPñ