PBS's Frontline presents THE MEDICATED CHILD on Tuesday, January 8th at 9:00pm. Check your local PBS listings to confirm the time. They will examine both sides of the debate over the use of powerful drugs in children.
We ask, "Why are children being diagnosed with profound mental illness (bi-polar!) at such young ages?" Yes, we need to look at the efficacy and safety of the drugs, that's a given. But who will have the courage to demand WHY are our kids so sick?
In recent years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of children being diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders and prescribed medications that are just beginning to be tested in children. The drugs can cause serious side effects, and virtually nothing is known about their long-term impact. “It’s really to some extent an experiment, trying medications in these children of this age,” child psychiatrist Dr. Patrick Bacon tells FRONTLINE. “It’s a gamble. And I tell parents there’s no way to know what’s going to work.”
In The Medicated Child, airing Tuesday, January 8, 2008, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria confronts psychiatrists, researchers and government regulators about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs for troubled children. The biggest current controversy surrounds the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Formerly called manic depression, bipolar disorder was long believed to exist only in adults, but, in the mid-1990s, bipolar in children began to be diagnosed at much higher rates, sometimes in kids as young as 4 years old. “The rates of bipolar diagnoses in children have increased markedly in many communities over the last five to seven years,” says Dr. Steven Hyman, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “I think the real question is, are those diagnoses right? And in truth, I don’t think we yet know the answer.”