Every parent wants a pediatrician that we can completely trust to have only our child’s best interestd in mind with every injury, weird virus, middle-of-the-night fever, diagnosis and treatment. For some families where there is a known condition or ongoing treatment, this role ranks really high in priority, along with teachers and family. When a child is diagnosed with a condition like diabetes, ADHD or autism, we want to know that our doctor will consider the long-term health risks and benefits in balance with our child’s needs today.
We first suspected our son had some early symptoms of ADHD when he was five, but our pediatrician indicated that he, personally, won’t diagnose children under 7, other than in extreme cases. At the time, he recommended we explore diet changes which led us to a pediatric naturopath and a food challenge to see if food or artificial ingredients were contributing to his ADHD symptoms. This exploration, which we share in our new book Is Food Impacting Your Child’s Behavior, surfaced issues with artificial food dyes and dairy for our son. Once we removed them from his diet, we knew we wouldn’t be having a conversation with our doctor about drug treatment in a few years.
Those early conversations with our pediatrician was back in 2008. A few years later, in 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised their guidelines for diagnosing children with ADHD and lowered the age from 6 to 4 years old.
Within two short years, it appears that doctors may already be over-diagnosing, and over-medicating, preschoolers demonstrating ADHD symptoms. New research released just this week from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York indicates that doctors are not acting in accordance with the AAP guidelines and treating preschoolers with medication too soon and before non-drug treatment.
Some of the interesting, although disappointing, highlights that reveal some of our own concerns from years ago include:
- More than 90% of doctors do not follow all guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics for treating ADHD in preschoolers
- One in five (20%) doctors prescribe medication as initial treatment for preschoolers with ADHD
- 20% of doctors believe that the number of children with ADHD that they treat with medication will increase in the future
“At a time when there are public and professional concerns about over-medication of young children with ADHD, it seems that many medical specialists are recommending medication as part of their initial treatment plan for these children,” said study researcher Dr. Jaeah Chung, of Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
Our own concern of the over-medication of children with ADHD is one of many reasons we wrote our guidebook for parents: Is Food Impacting Your Child’s Behavior. Ever since we identified what was triggering the ADHD symptoms in our son, we felt compelled to help other parents find the same success and potentially avoid medicating their child. Even when children are on ADHD medications, dietary changes can still bring additional benefits to their behavior and ability to focus. Many parents tell us that a three week food challenge, especially since we’ve done the hard part for them with the meal plans and recipes, are worth it to help their child.
If you’re interested in exploring whether your child could benefit from some slight diet changes, consider downloading our guidebook pdf to hold your hand along the way. You can learn more about a food challenge here.
If you’re already working with a doctor, or are considering doing so, mention this study and inquire about other treatment options if your gut is steering you in that direction. Even when we have a very trusting relationship with our pediatrician, we also need to advocate on behalf of our children. At least until they can do so on their own.