More American kids take drugs the legal kind

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A report in Tuesday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal reveals that more than one-fourth of all American minors are on prescription drugs. These drugs range from hypertensive and asthma medications to anti-psychotics and drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The current prescription rate is a significant increase from just three years ago when only 17 percent of kids took prescription drugs.

Yet the rise in the rates at which these drugs are being prescribed is not necessarily a bad thing, says Dr. Whelan. "This means we're addressing these problems, such as elevated blood pressure, earlier."

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross adds: “Hypertension and cholesterol lowering drugs are vastly underused in the adult population, with serious ramifications. The fact that we’re getting these kids earlier, rather than waiting until they’re in their forties and suffering from vascular events or organ failure is positive. If they are needed, there’s no problem with using pharmaceuticals. However, these drugs must be carefully titrated when prescribed to kids. Approaches to dosing are unlike those faced by doctors treating older adults. As a rule, you should start kids on lower doses. Giving drugs to young patients requires a highly individualized approach to therapy. But there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.”