About a century ago, medical research in the U.S. was plagued by unethical experimentation on prison inmates and the disabled. A few well-known examples of such malpractices include injecting patients with hepatitis and cancer cells, and withholding treatment to syphilis patients, as noted by NBC News. Although such unethical experimentations are nearly a century old, risky medical practices continue in the U.S. today, including to children.
In the U.S. each year, thousands of children are prescribed permanent personality altering medications for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, A.D.H.D is a common neurological disorder that causes patients great difficulty in concentrating, controlling impulses, and sitting still.
Interestingly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found a gender gap in diagnosis among ages five to seventeen, with about five percent of girls and fifteen percent of boys diagnosed with A.D.H.D. What is the reason for this overwhelming gender gap in those suffering from the disorder?
The reason for the gender gap is likely that a large number of these boys have been misdiagnosed with A.D.H.D. Do not misinterpret: A.D.H.D. is a legitimate and widely recognized disorder. The disorder is also widely misdiagnosed, as found by various scientific studies that will be discussed.
While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 10% of children are diagnosed with A.D.H.D., the American Psychiatric Association has established that only about 5% of children truly suffer from the disorder. Misdiagnosis of A.D.H.D. partly stems from pharmaceutical industries financially bribing researchers to exaggerate scientific findings on medications for the disorder, as noted by Scientific America.
Although medical research has proven to greatly benefit society, one must be wary of where exactly the funding of researchers is being granted. The exaggerated findings from bribed researchers greatly downplay the harmful side effects of A.D.H.D. medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Adderall and Ritalin have strong, addictive side effects and have been shown to stunt growth and development in children. Is anyone truly surprised that pharmaceutical companies would attempt to abuse their powers? According to the New York Times, sales of A.D.H.D. medications have accumulated profits of more than nine billion dollars. In the end, it is our nation’s children who pay the price.
Lastly, why are boys so disproportionately misdiagnosed with A.D.H.D.? The disorder has largely been targeted towards boys because their behaviors are typically more easily misconstrued by teachers as abnormal hyperactivity than the behaviors of girls, as noted by the scientific journal Pediatrics and Child Health. While girls may often sit still and listen in the classroom, boys are often too hyperactive to remain in their places for long durations.
Many teachers advise parents of hyper children to seek medical advice for A.D.H.D. Of course teachers mean the best by their advice, but proper education for teachers is needed to identify better teaching styles for more hyper children. Due to the high rate of misdiagnosis of A.D.H.D., teachers should suggest medical treatment for children only if most other options have already been exhausted.