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Parents, Doctors Warn of Prescribing Adderall to Toddlers

Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD (ADHD in some children includes hyperactivity) generally becomes evident when children and young adults are in school and start to experience difficulties in class or concentrating on homework. Diagnosis and treatment of this complex disorder is extremely difficult, and there has been heated debate on the medications used to treat ADD and ADHD for as long as these drugs have been on the market. The strong steroid medications often produce a lengthy list of side effects that can significantly alter a child’s quality of life. Doctors must weigh the positive effects of the treatment with negative side effects before making the decision to prescribe the medication to children.

Children suffering from the symptoms of ADD/ADHD may:
• Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another • Have difficulty focusing on one thing • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others • Talk nonstop • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

The most common drugs on the market to treat ADD and ADHD are Ritalin and Adderall, both classified as psychostimulants. The powerful steroids help counteract the effects of the disorder and are generally very effective in kids, teens, and adults. Adderall is FDA approved for children as young as six, and the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines dictate it is safe to use in children as young as four. Anything younger than four is just dangerous and unnecessary, according to numerous well-respected physicians and advocates.

Parents of children as young as two years old who suffered serious and long-lasting side effects as a result of being prescribed Adderall are starting to come forward and form a lawsuit aiming to hold the drug manufacturer and the doctors writing the prescriptions accountable for their actions. Pediatricians warn that not enough is known about how the drug affects the brain, especially in toddlers. “People prescribing to 2-year-olds are just winging it. It is outside the standard of care, and they should be subject to malpractice if something goes wrong with a kid,” Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a behavioral pediatrician in Walnut Creek, California, told the New York Times.
A Diagnosis of ADHD in toddlers is not reliable, according to the Center for Disease Control because the three main categories of symptoms-inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity-are quite common in toddlers and may not signify any developmental issues at all. Prescribing such a strong medication to toddlers subjects them to sometimes-severe side effects such as:

• nervousness • restlessness • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body • stomach pain • nausea • vomiting • diarrhea • constipation • loss of appetite • weight loss (Source: US National Library of Medicine)

Some patients experience serious reactions including:
• fast or pounding heartbeat • shortness of breath • slow or difficult speech • dizziness or faintness • weakness or numbness of an arm or leg • seizures • motor tics or verbal tics • believing things that are not true • feeling unusually suspicious of others • hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
• mania (frenzied or abnormally excited mood)
• aggressive or hostile behavior (Source: US National Library of Medicine)

One parent profiled in a recent article by Jane Mundy explained his overwhelming feeling of guilt about allowing a doctor to prescribe a high dose of Adderall to his then-three-year-old son. The article notes that his son only consumed the medication for about six months over eight years ago, but the side effects were drastic. The father, only identified as “David,” recalled that his young sons started experiencing vivid hallucinations, which are actually a sign of a possible overdose, according the US National Library of Medicine. In addition, the toddler also experienced weight loss and chest pains. “It’s not right that my son has to live like this because the Adderall manufacturer tests their drug on small children to make money,” he said, adding that his son will likely suffer permanent issues. David’s family, among others, are starting to file lawsuits to seek compensation for their losses.

According to a New York Times article publishes on May 16, 2014, The Center fpr Disease Control found that more than 10,000 children between the ages of two and three are given stimulant medications like Adderall to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) outside established pediatric guidelines. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous side effect as a result of being prescribed Adderall as a toddler, you are urged to contact an attorney right away. At the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, our dedicated team of Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys have decades of experience helping victims of even the most complex pharmaceutical cases. Our attorneys combine the reliable experience of having successfully handled thousands of Personal Injury cases, with the individual attention to understand and respond to the unique nature of your case. We will look into every detail of your case and will explore every legal avenue available in order to deliver legal representation of the highest quality.

At the law offices of Altman & Altman, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – including nights and weekends to answer any questions regarding your case. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

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