The number of children diagnosed with and treated for disruptive disorders including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has markedly increased over the last decade. Concurrent with this trend is a growing debate about the best way to treat such problems in children.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2000, the number of preschool children receiving stimulants, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications "rose drastically from 1991 to 1995." The study raised concerns about the increasing use of medications to manage ADHD disorders in young children because little is known about their safety and effectiveness for children of preschool ages. Few of these drugs, the study points out, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for prescription to young children.
For parents, especially those parents of children who have been diagnosed with a behavioral or emotional disorder or those who suspect their children have been suffering from such a problem, these new concerns about the use of psychotropic medications present nagging dilemmas. How should a parent make decisions about what course of treatment is the best one for his or her child?