Hillary Clinton Calls for More Attention to Treating Kids With Behavioral Disorders
March 20, 2000 (Washington) -- Repeating a recent call for better treatment
guidelines for children with psychiatric disorders, First Lady Hillary Rodham
Clinton announced Monday that both Federal and private groups will be stepping
up their efforts to define appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and observation of
these young patients.
Critical steps already are being taken, Clinton said, but throughout 2000,
more information will be made available to the people who need it, including
parents, teachers, and health care professionals.
First to be released this week is a new fact sheet by the National Institute
of Mental Health (NIMH). The resource is intended to help parents understand
the treatment options for their children, Clinton said. Also, the Department of
Education plans to release a kit to help teachers and parents recognize
children with emotional and behavioral problems, and a $5 million NIMH study is
getting under way that will assess the use of Ritalin (methylphenidate)in
The First Lady added that this spring, other information is slated for
release, such as new practice guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics
and new professional education programs by the American Academy of Family
Physicians. And in the fall, the Surgeon General will host a public conference
to discuss the increased use of medications, she said.
Clinton's announcement follows a recent study published in the Journal of
the American Medical Association. Researchers found that between 1991 and
1995, there was a dramatic rise in the use of psychotropic drugs -- or those
that affect the mind, emotions and behavior -- in treating preschoolers with
behavior problems. Although the increased use of medications may be justified,
Clinton said, "I am not a doctor, but I am a parent -- and these findings
The findings do raise certain concerns, says Mark Wolraich, MD, who is a
professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. For example, he tells WebMD
that while there is good evidence and data to evaluate the use of Ritalin in
school-age children for attention deficit disorders, there is less known about
its use in preschoolers and whether it offers the same benefits and risks for
that age group.
In terms of school-age children, "There are clearly some areas where it
is being overprescribed and underprescribed," adds Martin Stein, MD, who is
a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego.
Developing and discussing new guidelines hopefully will help identify and
correct some of those problems, he tells WebMD.
These practice guidelines will be developed from existing literature. But
the real key to determine appropriateness may have to wait for the FDA. The
agency's efforts to develop pediatric labeling information will play a critical
role in ensuring the appropriate use of these medications, Clinton said.