Over-reliance on Prescription Drugs to Aid Children’s Sleep?

Posted on August 10, 2007  Comments (3)

Waiting for the sandman

In the report, published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Sleep, researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus analyzed 18.6 million reported cases of sleep disorders in patients age 17 and younger. They found that 81 percent of these cases resulted in the prescribing of a drug to treat the problem. Only 7 percent of patients received dietary counseling, and only 22 percent were given behavioral therapies such as psychotherapy or stress management counseling.

Along with the perception (which I share) that we look to pills to fix problems too often (and the belief that drugs have risks and should not be overused) this is not good news.

He adds that it’s very reasonable for doctors to prescribe a sleep aid for a short time, to smooth the transition while behavioral changes are made. Behavioral approaches are almost always worth trying, he says: “It’s very easy to develop some disorders, and it can be very easy to get rid of them as well.”

However, only 19 percent of cases in the study received medication in concert with behavior therapy. Chervin adds that in some cases, such as when a child is developmentally impaired, behavioral approaches may not be appropriate.

But there are other factors at work, experts say. Pediatricians may be too busy, or influenced by parents not to try behavioral approaches, which can be time-intensive. Oftentimes, says Dr. William Kohler, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, “if we don’t use [medication], both the family and the child are going to suffer.”

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3 Responses to “Over-reliance on Prescription Drugs to Aid Children’s Sleep?”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    May 17th, 2008 @ 10:06 am

    Marketing Drugs…

    Melody Petersen, author of Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines on Bill Moyer’s Journal:

    I actually thought that they were a lot about science. That’s what they tell the pub…

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