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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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New research published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that Ritalin, the prescription drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, stunts the growth of children. It was discovered that after three years on the psychotropic drug, children are one inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers.

Physicians have observed this side effect of Ritalin for many years. Psychiatrists working for the National Institutes of Health initially found evidence of the drug stunting growth of children, yet nevertheless concluded that Ritalin carries "no long-term growth risk" to children. These researchers did not disclose their financial ties to the drug industry.

In my practice I've most often heard parents say that Ritalin (and other similar drugs) changes their children's personality, turning them into a 'zombie' or making them very dull. A few have noticed this growth retardation effect but their MDs have downplayed this. There is so much pressure from the school or childcare to control the behavior of these children that Ritalin and other drugs are seen as saviors.

This attitude has always been a surprise to me given all the focus on stopping kids from getting hooked on drugs. Ritalin is an amphetamine. On the street it's called "speed." Somehow it's ok to give your kids mind-altering drugs because they're being 'treated' for a problem.

Many children diagnosed with ADHD can be helped greatly by eliminating artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives, as well as sugar and other sweeteners. Aerobic exercise as an outlet for all that energy is also very important. Yes, it does take time to help these kids. Years of bad dietary and lifestyle choices cannot be erased in 1-2 weeks.

How about removing all these artificial 'foods' from school lunchrooms? Let's pay our teachers better and help them develop curricula that engage students instead of mindless memorization of dull facts that can be successfully regurgitated for standardized tests.

We need to stop forcing drugs on kids and start helping them learn and grow.


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