The malicious use of pharmaceuticals: An under-recognized form of child abuse

July 22, 2010, Elsevier

Child abuse is a serious problem that affects nearly one million children a year in the United States alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Department of Health and Human Services classify child abuse into four categories including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. None of these categories, however, clearly includes the abusive use of drugs on children. A study soon to be published in the Journal of Pediatrics investigates the malicious use of pharmaceuticals and attempts to shed light on this under-recognized problem.

Dr. Shan Yin from the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Poison Drug Center at Denver Health reviewed cases of pharmaceutical abuse reported to the National Poison Data System between 2000 and 2008. Dr. Yin included reports of the malicious use of alcohol, painkillers, cough and cold medicines, sedatives and sleeping pills, and antipsychotic medicines.

Of the more than 1400 cases studied, nearly 14% resulted in moderate to major consequences, including death. Nearly one-half of the abused children were exposed to at least one . An average of 160 cases, including two deaths, was reported each year. Motives and legal findings were unavailable for these particular cases; however, motives for the abusive use of drugs generally are varied, and can include punishment, amusement, or a wish for a break from childcare responsibilities.

This study illustrates the seriousness of the abusive use of drugs administered to children. According to Dr. Yin, "The malicious administration of pharmaceuticals should be considered an important form of child abuse." He encourages pediatricians and emergency medical personnel to be on the watch for this form of maltreatment, and suggests the use of comprehensive during the evaluation of a child suspected to be the victim of abuse. Dr. Yin also cautions parents that the "non-therapeutic administration of pharmaceuticals to children can result in serious outcomes, including death."

More information: The study, reported in "Malicious Use of Pharmaceuticals in Children" by Shan Yin, MD, MPH, appears in the Journal of Pediatrics, DOI:10.1016/jpeds.2010.05.040

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frajo
not rated yet Jul 22, 2010
According to Dr. Yin, "The malicious administration of pharmaceuticals should be considered an important form of child abuse." He encourages pediatricians and emergency medical personnel to be on the watch for this form of maltreatment
The child is out of luck if the physician who prescribes the damaging pharmaceutical happens to be acting as a close friend of the parents who have educational trouble with their child. The child will "sadly" end because of "side effects" and nobody will ever accuse the responsible persons.
antialias
not rated yet Jul 22, 2010
Just you wait: Ritalin and Prozac will just be decalerd one of the basic food groups by the pharma lobby and that will be the end of such 'abuse'.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Jul 22, 2010
My Grandmother (Irish) used to dip our pacifiers in whiskey when we were teething to help with the pain and the crying.

She wasn't a child abuser....
gwrede
3 / 5 (2) Jul 22, 2010
Just you wait: Ritalin and Prozac will just be decalerd one of the basic food groups by the pharma lobby and that will be the end of such 'abuse'.
Ehh, these two particular drugs don't have the effect that the malicious adult is looking for. (They usually want the child just to shut up, become submissive, and ultimately go to their room, and stay there.)

Giving Prozac to a healthy child should *maybe* make him a bit gigglish the first evening, and in the long run no effect should be visible. (And thank goodness, no long-term effects should arise either.) As to Ritalin, it may cause elevated mood, and definitely more vigor and activity, which are precisely what the adult doesn't want.

To Modernmystic, I agree. Especially in the old days, folks used to use whatever was at hand, to alleviate medical distress or discomfort. Most of the time they succeeded. "Old knowledge" was in high esteem, and folks also had time and brain cells left to actually remember such things. = No Ipods.
Psycho_logy
not rated yet Jul 25, 2010
To Gwrede,
"Giving Prozac to a 'healthy' child...?" Something about that seems a little ironic to me...

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