Little kids bombed out with drugs to save work for their government "carers"

Children as young as one in state care are being given powerful ADHD drugs - against warnings from pharmaceutical companies.

Research by The Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian reveals that the rate of medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder among young people in foster homes is more than double that in the general population.

Even more alarming is that 7 per cent - one in 14 - children under the age of six in care is being prescribed the drugs despite advice they should not be given to people that young.

"It is particularly concerning to hear from carers that children as young as one year of age are being medicated for ADHD," said Children's Commissioner Elizabeth Fraser in a previously unreported study presented to Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves last September.

Youth Affairs Network of Queensland director Siyavash Dhoostkhah said both the Government and the commission were failing in their duty of care to vulnerable children. "It's a scandal of the greatest level," he said. "These young children are being treated as guinea pigs."

Some medications also carry a warning that they can raise the risk of suicidal thoughts.

The use of ADHD drugs for children so young also is at odds with national guidelines issued by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and National Health and Medical Research Council in November 2009. They state: "Medication should not be used as first-line treatment for ADHD in preschool-aged children."

Department of Communities figures show there are 7800 children and young people in foster and other out-of-home care in Queensland. About a third of them are aged under six. The commission's findings mean about 170 young people in that age group are being given ADHD drugs.

The Youth Affairs Network is part of a coalition now preparing a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Mr Reeves refused to comment. A Department of Communities spokesperson said ADHD medication was sometimes prescribed in complex or extreme support cases.


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