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Could Lead Exposure Underlie Your Child’s “ADHD”? Study Says Under the Age of 6, Chances Are 50/50

Half of the youngest U.S. children have detectable levels of lead in their bodies, which can go untreated if behavior problems are only diagnosed as “ADHD.”

By CCHR National Affairs Office

The importance of checking for possible lead exposure in children whose behavior is labeled as “ADHD” is underscored by a recent report showing that half of U.S. children under the age of 6 were found to have detectable levels of lead in their blood, a condition known to cause hyperactivity and inattentiveness.

The study from Quest Diagnostics and published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed blood lead tests from 1.1 million children under the age of 6 living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia over the 17 months through February 2020.  Most of the children (71%) were under 3 years of age.

The analysis revealed that 50.5% of the children tested had detectable levels of lead in their blood, despite years of lead reduction programs in the United States.

Children in poorer areas and areas with older houses are at the highest risk of lead exposure.  The study found that 60.2% of children living in areas with the highest level of poverty had detectable blood lead levels, as compared to 38.8% of children in areas with the lowest levels of poverty.  More children from predominately African American and Hispanic areas (57.6% and 56%, respectively) were found to have detectable lead levels than predominately white areas (48.7%).

Lead is a toxic metal, known to cause serious health and mental health problems, especially in young children whose bodies are in a state of growth and development.  Additionally, the absorption of lead occurs more quickly in children than in adults.

Despite progress in reducing sources of lead exposure in the United States, lead is still found in the paint dust in older homes, schools and other buildings, and in older water pipes, the soil and air around heavy industry and highways, and some consumer products.  Young children breathe lead dust or touch and put contaminated objects into their mouths.

The CDC says that approximately 24 million housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards, including deteriorated paint and lead-contaminated house dust.  About 4 million of these are home to young children.

No safe level of lead exposure in children has been found.  Even the lowest levels of lead in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, hearing and speech problems, and memory and learning difficulties.

“The first signs of lead poisoning in children are often subtle neurobehavioral problems that adversely affect classroom behavior and social interaction,” according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the CDC.

The physical effects of lead in a child’s body can cause the child to become hyperactive or inattentive, behavior that can result in the child being labeled with “ADHD.”  The “diagnosis” of ADHD is inexact and completely subjective and includes behavioral criteria so broad that they could be found in any child.  A child’s behavior resulting from lead exposure is likely to be found in the wide-ranging “ADHD” criteria.

At higher lead levels, behavior can worsen, with children refusing to play and showing aggressive and antisocial behavior – behavior for which they potentially can be labeled with still other “mental disorders.”

With the psychiatric labels comes the increased likelihood of children being prescribed powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs that carry many dangerous, even life-threatening side effects.

The psychiatric drugs side effects database of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) currently lists 34 drug regulatory agency warnings and 32 research studies showing adverse effects for children under the age of 18 from the stimulant drugs typically prescribed for “ADHD.”

Those side effects include slowed growth, high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, hostility, anxiety, psychosis, mania, violence, and sudden death.  The psychostimulant drugs also carry the risk of addiction, with experts referring to them as “kiddie cocaine” because of their many similarities to cocaine.

The risk of these adverse effects from taking “ADHD” drugs potentially compounds the physical difficulties a child with lead exposure is already enduring.  The child’s life is further endangered if the true diagnosis of lead poisoning is missed, and only a “diagnosis” of “ADHD” is given for the child’s behavior.  Therefore, it is important for health providers and parents to consider a blood lead test for a child whose behavior is a cause for concern.

If lead is detected, parents can take action to help their child.  The CDC offers recommendations for what parents can do to lower their child’s lead level, starting with making a plan with the child’s physician, which may include more testing for the child.

Parents should take immediate action to find and fix any lead hazards in the home.  A home inspection should be done by a licensed lead inspector.  By removing lead sources, lead levels should drop noticeably in the child’s blood in a month or two, according to Joel T. Nigg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University.

The CDC recommendations also direct parents to feed their child healthy foods that contain calcium, iron, and vitamin C, which are protective against lead absorption, and to have the child tested for possible iron deficiency and insufficient dietary calcium.

“For the potentially lead-exposed child, adequate intake of iron, calcium and vitamin C, beyond their requirement for overall good nutrition, can specifically minimize absorption of ingested lead,” says the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention of the CDC.

The levels of lead in a child’s body can be reduced by taking these steps, with corresponding improvement in the child’s physical and mental health.

CCHR has long recommended that children experiencing behavioral problems should get a complete physical examination with lab tests and nutritional screening to discover any underlying physical conditions that could be causing the behavior.

With the latest study revealing that so many children have detectable levels of lead in their bodies, parents would do well to discuss with their physicians whether their children should be tested for lead exposure.  Now is a perfect time to do so, with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week starting on October 24.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by a mental health practitioner or psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

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News for Colorado News for Wyoming

Researchers Conclude Suicide Warning On Antidepressant Labels Is Justified

Researchers examining the validity of the black box warning on antidepressants have concluded that the warning of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children and young adults is clearly justified.

The best evidence available from clinical trials “demonstrated increased risk of suicidality adverse events among youth taking antidepressants,” according to researchers from universities in the United States and Australia, whose findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

The researchers also examined critics’ claims that the black-box warning led to fewer prescriptions for antidepressants and, as a result, higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

Instead, researchers found that the rise in suicidal behavior in children and young adults occurred while prescriptions for antidepressants also increased.

“More recent data suggest that increasing antidepressant prescriptions are related to more youth suicide attempts and more completed suicides among American children and adolescents,” the researchers wrote.

“The black box warning is firmly rooted in solid data, whereas attempts to claim the warning has caused harm are based on quite weak evidence,” they concluded.

A black box warning on a drug label is one of the FDA’s strongest warnings, reserved for drugs that carry significant risk of serious or fatal side effects.

The black box warning on antidepressants was first required by the FDA in 2004 to warn of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in children and adolescents.  The warning was expanded in 2007 to include young adults.

“When a clear body of evidence points to increased treatment-linked risk, patients and healthcare providers should be made aware of these risks,” the researchers wrote, noting their duty to warn.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know has experienced harmful side effects from antidepressants, we want to talk with you.  You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225.  All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.

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General News News for Colorado

If Drugging Children Wasn’t Bad Enough, Now Psychiatrists Want to Shock Them

Coloradans joined concerned citizens from around the nation on May 14 in a march organized by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to protest the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) recent push to get the FDA to approve electroshock (ECT) for children and to get electroshock devices reclassified into the same category of risk as electric wheelchairs and hearing aids.

ECT shoots as much as 460 volts of electricity through the brain in order to produce a seizure.  Every year 100,000 Americans are electroshocked, even though no one has ever been able to explain exactly how this barbaric practice “works” as mental health treatment.  In fact, neither the effectiveness nor the safety of ECT devices has ever been clinically proven, and never will be if the APA gets its way.

Childhood

The APA is pushing for ECT to be given to children who are “treatment resistant” to psychiatric drugs.  Eight million American children are on psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs – one million of them as young as 0-5 years old.  Many of them will get worse and will be labeled “treatment resistant,” instead of the treatment itself being labeled harmful and ineffective.

ECT is already a $1.2 billion a year industry.  If the APA gets its way, that industry will be growing by shocking the still-developing brains of children and subjecting their young bodies to convulsions.

The protest march is an annual event of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), timed to deliver a strong message of opposition to harmful psychiatric practices when psychiatrists attend the APA annual conference, this year in Atlanta. Click here to read CCHR International’s press release on this year’s march.

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General News

Irregular Bedtimes Linked To Children’s Behavior Problems

Children who do not have fixed bedtimes are more likely to experience behavior problems, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Image by Homero Nunez Chapa
Image by Homero Nunez Chapa

What’s more, as children progressed through early childhood without a regular bedtime, their behavior continually got worse.

The good news is that these effects are reversible.  Children who were changed to regular bedtimes showed definite improvements in their behavior.

Researchers at the University College London analyzed data collected from more than 10,000 British children at the ages of three, five and seven.  They found a clear, statistically significant link between the lack of regular bedtimes and behavior difficulties, which included hyperactivity, problems getting along with other children, mood swings, and other conduct problems.

“What we’ve shown is that these effects build up incrementally over childhood, so that children who always had irregular bedtimes were worse off than those children who did have a regular bedtime,” said lead author Yvonne Kelly, professor of life course epidemiology at the College.

The message to parents:  Schedule a specific bedtime, and then get the children to bed on time to help ensure good behavioral development.

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General News

Behavioral Problems in Young Children Are Linked to Soft Drinks

Image by MALIZ ONG
Image by MALIZ ONG

The reason young children fight too much or can’t pay attention could be found in the pop they drink

A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics finds that aggression, attention problems and even withdrawn behavior in young children are all linked to the consumption of soft drinks.

Prior studies had established the association between soft drinks and adolescents’ aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts, but young children had not previously been evaluated.

Researchers at Columbia School of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Vermont studied nearly 3,000 5-year-olds.

Their conclusion:  any amount of soft drinks consumed by children makes them more likely to be aggressive.

Not surprisingly, aggressive behavior increased right along with the number of soft drink servings children consumed per day.  Children who consumed 4 or more soft drinks a day were more than twice as likely to destroy other people’s belongings and physically attack others.

Based on these findings, eliminating sugary beverages could be a wise decision for parents searching for an all-natural, drug-free solution to their children’s behavioral problems.

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News for Colorado Schools

Pueblo City Schools To Correct Non-Compliance With State Law Safeguarding Children

Two months after the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado (CCHR) first contacted the office of the Superintendent of Pueblo City Schools, the school district will begin to take action on adopting policy to safeguard schoolchildren that has been required by state law since 2003.

(See “Pueblo School District Fails To Explicitly Prohibit Teachers From Pushing Psychiatric Drugs.”)

C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(ee) requires school district Boards of Education to adopt policy that explicitly “prohibit[s] school personnel from recommending or requiring the use of a psychotropic drug for any student.”  The law further mandates that behavioral testing of students requires prior written permission from the parents and prior written disclosure to the parent of what will be done with the test results.

The response from the office of Superintendent Maggie Lopez to CCHR’s initial public records request was slow and vague.  CCHR then sent a complaint to the president of the district’s Board of Education, in keeping with guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Education.  A complete response was received from the school district today.

The first reading of policy revisions containing the required statutory language will occur at the August 4 Board meeting, according to Greg Sinn in the district’s public relations office.  The third and final reading necessary for adoption is expected in September.

Psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs carry dangerous, even life-threatening side effects, especially for children.  (Adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs, as detailed in research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities and reports to the FDA, can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effect search engine.)

Psychiatric drugs also do not address the real, underlying problem(s) the child is experiencing, which may be a lack of additional instructional help, poor nutrition, or an undiagnosed physical condition.

Due to CCHR’s efforts, Pueblo City Schools becomes the twenty-first Colorado school district to date taking steps to remedy a long-standing non-compliance with this state law.

If you or someone you know has been pressured by school personnel to put a child on psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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News for Colorado Schools

Pueblo School District Fails To Explicitly Prohibit Teachers From Pushing Psychiatric Drugs

Policy Protecting Schoolchildren Has Been Required By State Law Since 2003

Pueblo City Schools is apparently in no hurry to adopt policy safeguarding children that has been required by state law since 2003.

An examination of Pueblo City Schools Board policy by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado (CCHR) found that the School Board is in violation of state law by not having adopted policy explicitly prohibiting school personnel from recommending or requiring psychiatric drugs for any student.

CCHR first brought the noncompliance to the attention of the office of Superintendent Maggie Lopez on June 6, following guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Education.  Since that time, agendas for the school district’s Board of Education meetings – including the meeting scheduled for this evening – have not included any mention of action on adoption of this policy.

Several readings of a policy are required at Board of Education meetings before it can be adopted for Pueblo City Schools.  Thus, it appears that some 23,000 schoolchildren in the district will be starting yet another school year without this statutory protection in place.

C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(ee) requires school district Boards of Education to adopt policy “to prohibit school personnel from recommending or requiring the use of a psychotropic drug for any student.”

The law further requires policy that “School personnel shall not test or require a test for a child’s behavior without prior written permission from the parents or guardians or the child and prior written disclosure as to the disposition of the results or the testing therefrom.”

The law was passed by the Colorado State Legislature eight years ago to protect against teachers, principals and other school personnel pressuring parents to put their children on psychiatric drugs.  These mind-altering drugs carry dangerous, even life-threatening side effects.  (Adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs, as detailed in research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities and reports to the FDA, can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effect search engine.)

Psychiatric drugs also do not address the real, underlying problem(s) the child is experiencing, which may be a lack of additional instructional help, poor nutrition, or an undiagnosed physical condition.

CCHR has sent Colorado Open Records Act requests to school districts throughout the state, requesting copies of the policy or policies that comply with this state law.

To date, CCHR has identified 21 school districts that did not have Board policy with the clear language of C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(ee).  Twenty of the 21 districts indicated to CCHR that steps were immediately being taken to remedy the long-standing non-compliance with state law.

Only Pueblo City Schools has been vague about when it will adopt the required statutory language.

Pueblo is home to the psychiatric drugging center known as the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Because a response from the superintendent was unclear as to when Pueblo Schools will act to bring its policy into compliance with the 2003 law, CCHR forwarded a complaint directly to the president of the Pueblo City Schools Board of Education, again following guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Education.

If you or someone you know has been pressured by school personnel to put a child on psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

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General News Schools

“ADHD” Just Keeps Getting Busted: Study Finds Changes In Diet Alone Calmed Two Out Of Three Antsy Kids

vegetables
Image by Junior Libby

A new study by Dutch researchers confirms what many parents have already discovered:  changes in diet can have a profoundly calming effect on a child’s behavior.  The study, reported last month in The Lancet, found that for two-thirds of the children studied, changes in diet alone led to the elimination of the fidgety behavior so profitably labeled by psychiatrists as “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,“ or ADHD.

In no uncertain terms, the study’s lead author underscores diet as the main cause of ADHD.  “After the diet [was changed], they were just normal children with normal behavior. They were no longer more easily distracted, they were no more forgetful, there were no more temper-tantrums,” Dr. Lidy Pelsser said in an interview with NPR.  About the teachers and doctors who worked with children in the study and witnessed the marked changes in behavior, she said, “In fact, they were flabbergasted.”

CCHR has long advocated giving children with behavioral problems a complete physical exam by a non-psychiatric physician, as well as a nutritional evaluation by a qualified nutritionist, to discover any underlying physical or nutritional conditions causing behavioral difficulties.  Parents should also make sure that proper instructional solutions are being applied for any behavioral problems in the classroom, since children’s disruptive behavior can result from not fully understanding, and consequently falling behind in, or not being properly challenged by, their schoolwork.

By 2007, some 5.4 million children in the U.S., or 9.5% of all children ages 4-17, had at some time been labeled with the made-up “mental disorder” known as ADHD, according to figures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  In Colorado, 7.6% of kids got the label; in Wyoming, 9.1%.  CDC figures show that boys are more than twice as likely to be labeled with it than girls.  (See Psychiatry: Labeling Kids with Bogus Mental Disorders).

Far more disturbing than the number of kids given this harmful and bogus label is the fact that nearly 3 million of them  – some 27,000 in Colorado and 5,000 in Wyoming – have been put on powerful  stimulant drugs that endanger their lives.   Categorized as Schedule ll drugs by the U.S.  Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and in the same class as cocaine, opium and morphine, ADHD drugs are highly addictive.  These drugs are also known to increase heart risks more than twofold and cause heart attacks, strokes, serious arrhythmias and sudden death in children.  Because of this, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires its most stringent, “black box” warning on ADHD (methylphenidate) drugs.   The drugs are also known to cause hallucinations, convulsions, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior in children.  (For more studies and international warnings on ADD/ADHD drugs, go to CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effects search engine, and for more information on documented side effects of psychiatric drugs in children, watch “Drugging Our Children – Side Effects”.)

For the failed practice of psychiatry, the revolving-door prescribing of these drugs for rambunctious and inattentive kids — despite the increased risks to these children – is a profitable business plan.  There are no lab tests, brain scans, or any other medical tests that can prove the existence of anything called “ADHD.”  The label is merely the subjective opinion of a psychiatric practitioner with a conflict of interest (profit motive), since he can bill Medicaid or private insurance companies for “managing” the “disorder” by writing prescriptions for years to come.

Indeed, a recent New York Times article detailed how psychiatrists now resort almost exclusively to psychiatric drugging because it is fast and profitable.   According to the article, a psychiatrist can earn $150 for three 15-minute patient visits for drug prescriptions compared with $90 for a 45-minute talk therapy session.  As one psychiatrist admitted, “I had to train myself not to get too interested in their problems.” No wonder a study reported several years ago in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that 90% of children visiting a psychiatrist for the first time left the office with one or more prescriptions for psychiatric drugs.

If a psychiatrist or other mental health practitioner has told you that any brain scan proves that your child has ADD or ADHD, or if your child has suffered side effects from taking any ADD/ADHD drug, or if any teacher has recommended or required that you put your child on ADHD drugs (which is illegal in Colorado: see “Protecting Your Children: Colorado Law Prohibits School Personnel From Recommending Psychiatric Drugs”), we want to talk to you.  Please contact us at 303-789-5225 or report the details of your experience here.