U.S. Kids Might Not Be Over-Medicated After All

Study found 14% of teens with conditions like ADHD are treated with psychiatric drugs

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Dr. David Rubin, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial, said that "rather than arguing about who is right -- those who think children are overusing medication, versus those who think this issue is overstated -- the conflicting data really tells a story of very different experiences for children in this country depending on where they're from and the resources their family has."

Many families with typical health insurance simply cannot afford mental health care for their children, he said.

"At the same time, for our most high-risk children in the Medicaid program, who may be provided services for free, those services are highly skewed to medication treatments that may carry significant safety concerns," said Rubin, co-director of the PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

"It should bother us that many children do not have access to the appropriate services they need, and that rates of medication use -- whether high or low -- are really a symptom of mental health system that does not meet the standard of what any parent -- whether rich or poor -- would hope for their children if they were in crisis," Rubin said.

More information

To learn more ADHD, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

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