The First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton and the Clinton Administration has proposedto increase focus and funding for research on the use of psychotropic medications in very young children. The recent reporting of stories in the news media documenting the increased use of psychotropic medications inchildren under five years old, for conditions such as ADD and depression, has appropriately raised concerns among parents, health care professionals, and legislators.
Over the past two decades scientific and health care professions have made tremendous strides in our understanding of ADD and development of effective treatment modalities. We know that ADD affects individuals across the life span. We also know that early identification and intervention produce the most powerful benefits. Very young children, who exhibit a high degree of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and behavioral disorder, are at high risk for accidental injury or development of disabling long-term problems in their ability to function. Particularly in the case of children under the age of five, it is essential to develop accurate diagnostic procedures and safe and effective treatment methods.
There are many questions of whether or not medications should be used as a treatment option for ADD during these tender years, and how it should be used, needs to be determined on the basis of solid scientific and medical knowledge. Many experts cautionthat the usefulness of most of psychotropic medications for children has not been well documented. Moreover, those that appear to have beneficial effects also have unwanted side effects, ranging from just annoying to very serious. All such medication should be used as part of a comprehensive plan of treatment, with ongoing evaluation.