New Findings About ADHD: Part 1 The Brain and ADHD — Meet Dr. Ted Conger at Alternative Medicine-Live!

Presented by Dr. Ted Conger and Dr. Chris Harbrecht

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in children, and recent research on brain development has uncovered some surprising ADHD-related results.

Standard ADHD treatments use stimulant drugs, but do they cause more harm than good?  Your doctor at Conger Chiropractic believes that the upward trend of medicating children for attention issues warrants further examination.

What is ADHD?

Youngsters with ADHD are not simply overly energetic or rambunctious.  They have severe difficulting paying attention, can be disruptive and make careless mistakes at school.  In addition, it’s hard for them to focus and follow instructions.

Children with aDHD lack organizational skills and frequently misplace or lose things.  Easily distracted and extremely forgetful, many kids with ADHD can’t sit still and fidget constantly.

Some ADHD kids talk nonstop, interrupting and blurting out answers to questions.  They’re also impatients,  and become extremely frustrated when asked to wait.

Overdiagnosis Dilemma

Your doctor at Conger Chiropractic and other child wellness advocates are concerned that ADHD is grossly overdiagnosed — and dreadfully overtreated.  Some experts estimate as many as 15 percent to 26 percent of all youngsters have ADHD.  But more gnerally accepted rates fall between 3 percent and 5 percent, although some argue that even this estimate is high.

Alarmingly, some educators and health-care providers are quick to apply the ADHD label to any active child, and recommend medication — even though these professionals may not be adequately trained in diagnosing the disorder.  If you suspect that your child might have ADHD, talk to your doctor at Conger Chiropractic about how and where to have your child properly evaluated.

Old Findings: Brain Differences in ADHD

For years, there has been controversy about brain development in children with ADHD.  Some researchers say that ADHD is caused by developmental delays, while others suggest that the ADHD brain is fundamentally different from birth.

Maryland researchers recently used special techniques to analyze the brains of 56 girls, aged 8 to 12 years old; 21 had ADHD and 35 did not.  There was no denying that kids with ADHD had striking differences in their brains.  Certain key areas were thinner and smaller than the same brain regions in the contral group (Hum Brain Mapp 2007 Epub).  These researchers trace ADHD’s origins to the early stages of brain development.

A new study by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) looked at 36 children with ADHD.  The children’s brains had smaller volume than those of kids without the disorder (Am J Psychiatry 2007;164:64647-55).  These types of differences had not been noted before.

New Findings: Delayed Development

Some of the same NIMH researchers evealuated brain function in 223 children with ADHD.  They confirmed that brain areas associated with attention and motor planning weren’t normal-sized (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007;104:19649-54).  However, researchers felt this was the result of delayed development, not an abnormal brain.

If this developmental delay is only temporary, then midicating young children for ADHD symptoms may be a serious mistake.

Stimulants, and Plenty of Them

Stimulant-based treatment for ADHD began in 1937 when a doctor “discovered” that this type of medication produced a calming effect on hyperactive children (J R Soc Med 2004;97:531-5).  Today, a whopping 90 percent of US children with ADHD receive the stimulant medication methylphenidate (Am J Public Health 1999;89:1359-69).  Methylphenidate is marketed under brand names such as Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate and Daytrana, which comes as a transdermal patch.  One nonstimulant medication for ADHD call Stattera affects norepinephrine receptors in the brain.

Today, even as ADHD rates in children remain stable, treatment with central nervous system stimulants continues to skyrocket.  Usage rates doubled in recent years.

Beside methyphenidate, other stimulate drugs prescribed for ADHD include the amphetamines Adderal, Dexedrine, Focalin, Attenade and Cylert.

And an increasing number of ADHD kids are receiving additional medications, including anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, which may be a dangerous combination (Am J Public Health 1999:89:1359-64).

ADHD Medications: More Harm Than Good?

It may be hazardous to take ADHD stimulants in conjunction with antidepresseant drugs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), blood thinners or anti-seizure medications.  They are contradicted for anyone with glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, irrecgular heartbeat, a seizure disorder or anyone whi is pregnant.

Chilling cautions warn that stimulant ADHD drugs may be habit-forming and cause sudden death in children with heart problems or defects.  There are also lengthy usage and ovedose alerts.

Check out this list of “minor” side effects for a generic ADHD stimulant:

– Nervousness
– Difficulty falling asleep
– Dizziness
– Nausea
– Vomitting
– Loss of Appetite
– Stomach Pain
– Diarrhea
– Headache
– Painful Menstruation

A second list advises an immediate call to the doctor for any of these occurences: fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, slow or difficult speach, weakness or numbness of a an arm or leg, seizures, changes in vision, agitation, abnormal thoughts, hallucinating, motor tics, depression, mood changes, fever, sore throat, unusual bleeding, muscle pain, hives, rash, itching or difficulty breathing. 

Many scientific studies show other disturbing problems with this type of medication.

Brain Alternations

Newer research reveals that stimulants for ADHD may be destructive to overall health.  A small Swiss study of 10 young boys taking Ritalin for ADHD found lower blood volume in parts of the brain where cognitive processing is center (J Child Neurol 2007;22:812-7).

An animal stuldy at Weill-Corness Medical College showed that the brains of rats on Ritalin were altered in areas that control cognition, motivated behavior, stress and appetite (J Neurosci 2007;27:7196-207).

Mood Changes

Some parents try giving their youngsters stimulants only to abandon the treatment because the children seem out of sorts, listless,  excessively quitet and uninvolved.  In essence, they are no longer “themselves.” Drug companies admit that stimulants may worsen behavioral distubances in some children with ADHD.

Cardiac Concerns

Some patients report that ADHD stimuulants cause rapid heartbeat or more serious cardiac problems.  One manufacturer warns that stimulant medications can raise blood pressure and heart rate.  A careful medical history of the patient should be conducted, and if a cardia-related symptom develops, the child must be rushed to a doctor.

A retrospective study at the University of Florida looked for a connection between ADHD stimulants and heart problems.  Analyzing 55,383 cases, researchers learned that stimulant use in young people with ADHD is closely linked with emergency room visits for cardiac causes (Pediatrics 2007;120:e1494-501).

Most alarming is the possibility of sudden death in children and teens with heart conditions.  Just last year, The Gurdian (UK) reported 51 deaths among children and adults taking drugs for ADHD in the US since 1999.

Because of these dangers, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel pressed for the most serious “black box” caution for methylphenidate after 19 cases of sudden death.  However, the FDA rejected the recommendation.

Impact on Overall Well-Being

There is much doubt about stimulants as treatment for ADHD.  A Taiwanese study looked at the well-being of 119 children between the ages of 6 and 15 who took Ritalin for ADHD.  Parents reported that their children continued to suffer from worse health than  other children (Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2007;41:998-1004).

So, faced with the new research, what can be done to address ADHD symptoms in young people?  Fortunately, there are a number of effective alternatives.  Ask for more information from Dr. Ted Conger, read part 2 of this article when it is posted for aideas about all-natural, nondrug interventions for ADHD.

Dr. Ted Conger will be exhibiting at Alternative Medicine-Live!  and providing Free Spinal Screening and Health Information.

Health, Wellness and Education, are themed topics at Salt Lake City Two-Day Conference and Expo, entitled “Alternative Medicine-Live!”

University Park Marriott
480 Wakara Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108

Hours: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Cost: $35 – Complimentary Tickets Available for Groups
Call 1-800-498-5640

Combining the best of alternative therapies and how they are integrated into today’s modern medical and healing practices – that is the theme of the Two-Day Conference and Expo, entitled “Alternative Medicine-Live!”, to be presented on April 4-5, 2008.

This Conference and Expo will feature exhibits, presentations, lectures, refreshments, a “Meet the Healers” reception, free samples and health testing. Open to both the public and also to the health care community, this is the fourth conference presented in the Salt Lake valley by the Alternative Medicine Network.

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