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More U.S. kids being treated for chronic diseases

November 3, 2008 |  5:56 pm

Newplayground

The number of U.S. children taking medications for chronic diseases is growing, with some interesting gender differences.

Researchers had already established that chronic conditions are on the rise among the not-yet-adult set, but how those conditions are being treated ... that has been less well understood. Now we have a clearer picture.

Using prescription claim data for 2002 to 2005, researchers at Express Scripts, St. Louis University and Kansas Health Institute evaluated the use of drugs to treat hypertension, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, depression, ADD/ADHD and asthma in insured children ages 5 to 19.

The use of all medications rose, but the use of drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes soared. The rate of growth for drugs to treat these conditions:

Hypertension: 1.8%

High cholesterol: 15%

Diabetes: 103.3%

Depression: 1.8%

ADD/ADHD: 40.4%

Asthma: 46.5%

The researchers spent some time theorizing about the reason teenage girls had such a greater use of diabetes drugs than did boys -- 146.6% growth compared with 38.7%. Obesity is a primary contributor to diabetes, and yet obesity rates didn't account for the discrepancy. As the researchers pointed out, boys have had higher rates of the condition in recent years, as well as higher growth in those rates.

Possible reasons, they said, included the use of the diabetes drug metformin to treat polycystic ovary syndrome and metabolic syndrome, as well as the higher rate of doctor visits by teenage girls compared with teenage boys.

But then girls also had higher growth in the use of antidepressants and medications for ADD/ADHD.

Referring to the overall findings, lead author Emily R. Cox said in a news release:

"These trends are worrisome given that many of these therapies are treating conditions with modifiable risk factors and if not addressed, many of these children will carry these chronic conditions into adulthood."

The study was published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Chronic conditions among kids are more common than they used to be. Here, kids play during recess at Elizabeth Hudson Elementary School in Long Beach.

Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (13)

It makes me wonder about the side effects of these drugs and if they are, in actuality, causing additional complications. How extensively have these drugs been tested on children by the FDA? And why higher prescriptions on girls? It makes me wonder if the medical system is using these girls as test subjects, not necessarily intentionally, but as a product of a non-preventative health care system.

Kids. Turn off the TV's and video games. Play outside. Eat good food not fast food. Take your vitamins. Be happy. Sing, make art, play sports. Go to bed early.
Parents.... do the same thing.
Schools need to make physical ed mandatory everyday.

Our son, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis last year. Upon finding out about this disease, we discovered that many children and adults that we know personally are suffering from this disease or its partner Crohn's Disease. It just isn't talked about. The odds of approaching someone and discovering a similar disease should not be as prevalent as I am finding. This must be one of those "chronic conditions" that is on the rise.

WARNING: If you child is covered by a Group Health Insurance and acquires something like this mentioned above, he or she may NEVER qualify for insurance again. This is not right and makes one question whether children should be moved to personal insurance policies early.

Wow. This article reads like a propaganda piece for controlling children, especially girls. "Their chronic disease rates are increasing! We must put them on medication and teach them they aren't normal!"
Whatever you do, don't let your kids have freedom. Remind them that they are obese, ADDH, depressed, or what have you and make them aware that they have to take a pill at a regular time, like the good little clogs in society's wheel we want them to become.

The sad commentary of pediatric chronic disease is actually an amalgam of lifestyle and dietary discipline ... or actually lack thereof. The inclusion of ADHD into the mix even more evidence for lack of discipline in the lives of our children whereby too many evolve under the watchful eye of television programming hawking fat and sodium laden meals as well as psychosocial drivel in the form of fads and the other accoutrements superfluous to proper growth and development of our children. There are too many touting the presence of the illness du jour propagated by a prescription drug industry allowed to run amok over the mass media without consideration of the consequences.

In England the Government department NICE is stopping in 2009 children from taking Ritalin for ADHD.
The big issue
Behavour skills need to be taught, but as was said in the 2005 aap.org there is not the time for the doctors to do this task.
So things like AnimalAgentz(supported by Dr Chris Steele MBE) which teach children skills should be used more.
Once the child learns these skils they can use them for all sorts of issues.

"Child obesity is child abuse!" --Ron Jones, Child Health Advocate

What's it going to take America? We as adults have already doomed this generation of kids to be the first to NOT outlive the ages of their parents. And forget about longevity at this point--what about quality of life in general for however many years they end up living? My God! We are setting new levels of dysfunction and apathy for personal and family health! Think the government and Western medicine is going to fix American healthcare? Think again. NO ONE IS COMING. We are rotting from the inside out. We will fix it from the inside out i.e. taking personal responsibility for OUR OWN health before we give it away to doctors and inefficient government programs.

Obesity, Obesity, Obesity, Obesity .... the main cause of most of the health problems for the nation, not just the kids. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol leading to heart disease, and depression from low self images when they are over weight, are all obesity issues. We are the most wasteful, glutenous nation on the face of the earth and we are now reaping the consequences. We need to start living a new "not everything is alright to do" approach. We have no guidelines for what is right or wrong ... we spend when we don't have the money to spend (ie credit card debt), we eat the things we shouldn't, we waste money while dragging junk food (garbage) into our kitchens, we are too lazy to cook a meal so we eat at fast food slop houses, we set on our a$$e$ in front of at television when we should be out exercising .... and then we whine because things aren't going well, because our nation isn't healthy ... Duhhhhhhhhhhh !

SHOOT MORE TOXIC VACCINES INTO OUR CHILDREN THEY ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL THE HEALTH PROBLEM WHICH ARE RISING WITH THE AMOUNT OF MANDATORY SHOTS

There is a dual problem at work - health is worsening because of increasing obesity, while meds are being over-prescribed.

Playstations, computers, junk food, fear of the outside, no friends, parents can't cook, parents are fat. Enough reasons for any child.

What is it going to take for parents to take the responsibility for their children's health? Responsibility for its declining and responsilibility for its improving. Declining because of laziness (including not being able to say 'no'), fear, and non-education. Improving by becoming educated about the food in their homes and school lunches. Parents, learn to shop and prepare natural food intelligently with love for them and the knowledge that you're giving them and yourselves the foundation for a long, happy, healthy life. Natural and organic too expensive you say? Not as expensive as health insurance, medications, sickness on the rise in historical proportions for our children, what were once the plagues of the adults now being visited on our young -- mentally, physically, and psychically. Think about it. It's common sense basic, fundamental and so simple. Any machine operating on cheap, polluted fuel will break down. Why are our bodies any different? Invest in the best fuel necessary for your family to operate at its optimum -- they deserve it.

The first thing that came to my mind was all this is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise because kids are so fat these days. I blame the parents.



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