A new film exposing the corruption behind much of the Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis used to remove children from the custody of their parents, and in some cases put parents behind bars, is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. The Syndrome is a film produced and directed by Meryl Goldsmith, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who teamed up with her cousin and investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith as the co-producer and editor. It is Meryl Goldsmith’s feature directorial debut, according to the film’s website. Included in the cast are doctors and law professors.
Lauren Kirchner, writing for the Pacific Standard Magazine, recently interviewed Susan Goldsmith and discussed the opposition the film has received from the medical community:
Many of the film’s subjects have dedicated their professional lives to gaining attention to updated research on child injuries, and to defending accused abusers in court. For this, they have faced a huge backlash from the doctors and prosecutors who disagree. The filmmakers knew they’d get swept up in that, too. Many film festivals that considered including the film were threatened with litigation, and accused of promoting child abuse, the filmmakers said in a recent interview.
“This is a theme in our film—how the proponents of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma have tried to silence their critics,” Susan Goldsmith says. “And that theme is extending to here and now, to our documentary. I was expecting it. We thought we were helping by uncovering these other medical conditions that can look like abuse, but are not [abuse]. It actually threatens the entire shaken baby syndrome working group and industrial complex.”
Kirchner writes that those who support Shaken Baby Syndrome in the medical field are part of a powerful and influential group, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Before the film’s first screening, they tried to get the Kansas International Film Festival to block the film, calling it “dangerous” even though they had not viewed it.
Audrey Edmunds, mother of three, spent 11 years in prison for killing a baby she never harmed. And she is not alone. What happens when widely held beliefs based on junk science lead to the convictions of innocent people?
The Syndrome is an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists, and legal scholars who have uncovered that “Shaken Baby Syndrome,” a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the US, is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist.
Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with Award-winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith to document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted.
The Syndrome uncovers the origins of the myth of “Shaken Baby Syndrome.” It unflinchingly identifies those who have built careers and profited from this theory along with revealing their shocking pasts. Shaken baby proponents are determined to silence their critics while an unthinkable number of lives are ruined.
Last year (2014) law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who is featured in Goldsmith’s film, wrote a an article for Slate about 43-year-old Jennifer Del Prete, a former Illinois day care worker who had served 10 years of a 20 yearprison sentence over Shaken Baby Syndrome, but was then released by a federal judge. Tuerkheimer’s article, Finally, a Judge Calls Shaken Baby Diagnosis an “Article of Faith”, stated that the ruling was “one of a growing number that reflect skepticism on the part of judges, juries, and even prosecutors about criminal convictions based on the medical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome.”
Tuerkheimer went on to write:
The case is also a critical turning point. The certainty that once surrounded shaken baby syndrome… has been dissolving for years. The justice system is beginning to acknowledge this shift but should go further to re-examine and perhaps overturn more past convictions. (Read the full article.)
Shaken Baby Syndrome Can be Evidence of Vaccine-Induced Rickets
Christina England has written about the work of Dr. David Ayoub, a practicing radiologist from Springfield, Illinois, who has linked healing fractures found on x-rays of children, used to a mistakenly diagnosis Shaken Baby Syndrome, to infantile rickets. Dr. Ayoub believes that it is not only a poor diet and the lack of sunshine that is responsible for the growing number of children suffering from rickets, but also the growing number of vaccinations containing the adjuvant aluminium.
Dr. Ayoub, an expert on the subject of infantile rickets, has been involved in hundreds of cases of misdiagnosed rickets worldwide and has testified on the behalf of many innocent parents charged with Shaken Baby Syndrome. (Read more about Dr. Ayoub here.)
Support The Syndrome Film!
Do not let the medical industry intimidate and block the message of The Syndrome! False Shaken Baby Syndrome charges are ripping children away from their parents and putting innocent people behind bars! The message of this film must reach the public!
Here are the upcoming screenings, and we encourage you to attend and support this film:
Geneva Film Festival—this Thursday 3/12 9 p.m. and Saturday 3/14 3 p.m. @Dodson Place, 416 South 2nd St., Geneva, IL
(In)Justice For All Film Festival–Monday, April 13th 6:30pm @ Northwestern University Chicago, IL
Arizona International Film Festival–April 9-26th (TBA) Tucson, AZ
For more times and showings at future dates, be sure to visit the film’s website: TheSyndromeFilm.com
Bret Bohn’s family wants the public to know that it is not just children who are being medically kidnapped, being used as medical research lab rats, forced to take drugs, and being kept isolated from their families. They say it happened to their son, too. He was 26 years old at the time.
What began simply enough ended up in an 8 month long nightmare. Bret’s mother Lorraine Phillips told Health Impact News that it was “medical torture” and a “horrific abuse of Government corruption and power.”
From a Simple Surgery to Being Incapacitated by Drug Side Effects
Bret, a native Alaskan and an avid hunter and outdoor sportsman, had surgery to remove some nasal polyps. As a result, he lost his sense of smell, reports Police State USA. Prednisone was prescribed to help him regain his sense of smell. Neither he nor his family realized that one of the powerful steroid’s side effects was insomnia, but he certainly felt the effects of it.
After a period of a week of no sleep, Bret’s parents took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where two more drugs were prescribed that were supposed to help calm him and help him sleep.
The Ambien and Ativan were not exactly the magic bullet that he had hoped for. Instead, Bret started having seizures, which his family later learned is listed as one of the side effects of the drugs. He went back to Providence Medical Center, only to see his health quickly deteriorate as he was given more drugs and experienced more seizures.
Despite many tests being run, the hospital staff was unable to reach a diagnosis of Bret’s medical problems. More and more medications were allegedly prescribed, yet the original problem remained – he still couldn’t sleep. There was one stretch of 24 days with no sleep.
In his weakened state, his parents assumed power of attorney, based on a written agreement with their son that was signed in 2007. Among Bret’s impressive list of achievements, he was a member of the National Honor Society as well as an Eagle Scout. He holds two degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He had the foresight to “be prepared” for any emergency in which he might become incapacitated.
Bret Becomes a Medical Prisoner, Unable to Escape
At one point, Bret became frustrated with all the medical treatments, and decided, as an adult, to leave the hospital. He unplugged from the machines, and removed his IV and catheter. His “escape attempt” was reported to the courts.
His parents began to question the course of medical treatment and requested that their son be weaned off of the medications. For a brief period, their request was honored, and Bret got some much-needed sleep, as reported previously by Health Impact News. It was short-lived. His parents requested a transfer to another facility for a second opinion. At this time, there was still no diagnosis for his deteriorating health.
It was not long after that, on October 23, 2013, that Providence Medical Center told Bet’s parents that they were restricting their visits with their son, ignoring Bret’s signed power of attorney to his parents.
As the visits with his family decreased, his medications were increasing. When Bret opposed some of the medications, including some that were psychotropic, he was viewed as “disgruntled” and “combative,” sure signs of mental illness. He was confined to the psych ward.
On November 5, 2013, Adult Protective Services filed for emergency guardianship over Bret, accusing his parents of not having his best interests in mind. Judge Erin Marston granted the motion on November 15, refusing to allow any family members to assume the role of his guardian. His previous escape attempt and his family’s attempt to wean him off the medications and find the actual cause of his symptoms were all seen as validation for the state to hold him against his will and remove his basic human rights, according to the family.
Heavily Drugged, and Treated Like a Criminal in State Custody
For a time, visitation was permitted by the state, but there were a number of conditions imposed, though no crime had been committed. According to a document on the Free Bret Bohn Facebook page, these restrictions included:
No cell phones, no computers, no working phone in Bret’s room
Only Chaplains from Providence hospital permitted. Bret could not have any visitation from his own pastor or ministers
No outside sources of Lawyers
No letters, cards, balloons, or flowers
No Privacy. Visitation supervised
Visitors not permitted to whisper, must speak clearly at all times
Family forbidden to tell Bret that he was coming home some day
At one point his family was told that only one hug was permitted, only upon arrival
No body contact, unless approved by Providence
Visits expected to be calm, social, and lighthearted in nature
Any stress inducing behaviors, whether purposeful or unintentional, would result in an end to the visit
Visits limited to one hour, then reduced to 30 minutes, then eliminated altogether
Security to accompany visitors to and from the visitation area
The family reports that Bret was heavily medicated during all visits, ranging from the minimum of extremely dilated pupils to being medicated at times “to the point of inability to communicate freely.” His mother reports that he eventually was on at least 22 different drugs, including Resperidone and Haloperiodol, which are powerful anti-psychotic drugs.
After Christmas 2013, his family and friends were no longer permitted to visit at all. Though he was an adult, Bret was completely at the mercy of guardians he never agreed to. His 27th birthday came and went on January 12, with no visits from any loved ones permitted according to his family.
Forced Medical Research and Attempt to Escape
Because he was now a ward of the state, he could legally be entered into drug trials and medical research without his knowledge or consent. There was finally a diagnosis, Autoimmune Encephalitis. His family was told that he had irreversible brain damage, and needed treatment in Seattle. He was court-ordered to receive ECT – electroconvulsive therapy, or shock therapy to his brain, against his will.
In late March, Bret was transferred to Harborview Medical Center, a University of Washington facility, in Seattle. There, his parents report, psychiatrists wanted to transfer him to the psych ward. His parents were allowed to visit, and what they found was very disturbing. In an email to Health Impact News, his mother Lorraine describes the horrific situation:
“Bret was crying tears (no voice), spitting out their medications, and begging for his life.”
According to Lorraine, Bret had had enough, and he decided to leave. She and Bret walked out of the hospital in what they hoped was an escape to freedom, and answers.
Three days later the family were seeking a second opinion, when his mother was arrested, charged with kidnapping, and locked up in the King County Jail. Bret was forced back into the hospital.
Defying Alaskan Authorities to Gain Freedom
Lorraine was released without bail the next day, and a new team of doctors were assigned to Bret’s case. They chose not to follow the directions of the Providence hospital, instead doing their own evaluation. That was the beginning of the end of Bret Bohn’s nightmare.
On May 9, Bret was released to the care of his aunt and uncle in Boise. Despite the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy’s insistence that they were in control of Bret, and that he needed to be transferred to a nursing home, Bret himself phoned the Alaska courts on the very day of his discharge from Harborview, requesting Termination of Guardianship.
He began weaning off of all the medications that he had been forced to take, and his family and friends report that Bret is finally back to himself again. Despite adamant insistence by the Alaskan authorities, their suspicions that the drugs were actually causing the very problems that the hospitals needed to treat were confirmed.
On June 17, 2014, the nightmare ended and Bret’s freedom was returned as he received Termination of Guardianship.
Proving Doctors Wrong
Today, Bret Bohr’s life defies any accusation that he would be permanently incapacitated. The system that took his health and his freedom has been demonstrated to be wrong, as he is back to work in Alaska as a Bear Guard and Big Game Guide, living his life and loving his family.
According to the family’s Facebook page, Bret wants the public to know the facts of his story “so this kind of inhumane treatment is not ordered by law to others,” and “so this will not happen again!” They have pointed out that it was public advocacy and the tireless efforts of family, friends, compassionate lawyers, and supporters that made the difference in freeing Bret.
There are many others whose voices have not yet been heard, yet they face the same injustice. Many still believe this kind of thing “couldn’t happen in America.”
But it can, and it does. Bret’s family hope that their story can help expose the injustice and can help others who are being medically kidnapped by the government agencies, the very ones who insist they are working for the “best interest of the child, or the patient.”
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Representative Jason Overstreet, representing the 42nd district in Washington, and who has taken an interest in this case, just posted an update on his Facebook Page:
The Rengo Family placement hearing was moved up this morning to 10 a.m. from the scheduled 4 p.m. hearing. I will withhold comment on that move.
Security was heavy. The courtroom was packed.
The allotted timeframe was 1 hour with an expected decision on placement either with the parents or a semi-permanent out of family placement. If your a poker player, this will be your “tell.”
The State Attorney General’s Office stood in place of the County legal team in the prosecution of this hearing. A rare move indeed. Attorney General Ferguson, the same AG who is persecuting Christian business owners for refusing to participate in weddings that conflict with their closely held religious beliefs, sent his legal team to take over in an attempt to spare the State embarrassment.
The Attorney General’s Office took the entire hour, discussing police reports where no arrests were made, save one, prior to the birth of the children. No mention of the babies’ health and welfare was even attempted by the State.
The court commissioner was frustrated at the State’s extended attempt to muddy the water, even commenting on the rare nature of such extended testimony on a case that should be cut and dried after a forcible taking of children from their parents.
The hearing was extended to tomorrow at 2:30 on the 4th floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, where he demanded that the State rap up and allow the family’s legal team to present it’s case.
Constitutional Attorney Steven Pidgeon petitioned the court for a writ of habeus corpus, asking that the charges be laid or the children be released to the parents. The writ of habeus corpus, a fundamental tool of liberty guaranteed by both our State and Federal Constitutions, was ignored by the court, the clerk stating that they hadn’t even seen one in 20 years, with one judge refusing to even look at the writ.
There is much talk of “more to the story.” There certainly is. There always is. If you are tempted to make that statement, ask yourself where your information is coming from and what the validity of that information actually is. This is not a comfortable conversation, it’s true. I shudder the horror of your family, or mine, under a microscope of the bureaucracy that is CPS.
Constitutional Attorney Stephen Pidgeon has agreed to represent the Rengo Family in an attempt to reunite babies Levi, Morna, and Daniel with their parents. He will accompany the family to the hearing tomorrow, and the public and the media are encouraged to show up at the:
Whatcom County Courthouse
311 Grand Avenue
Tuesday December 2nd – @ 9:00 A.M.
More details to follow. A Facebook Page has also been setup for the family.
by Terri LaPoint Health Impact News
All three of their babies have been taken away from them and placed in the care of strangers. Levi was 10 months old when his mother, local singer and songwriter Erica May Rengo, gave birth to his twin brother and sister, at their home in Bellingham, Washington.
“Our birth was glorious,” she said, and the twins were reportedly healthy, full-term babies, who had no problem quickly figuring out how to breastfeed. The little family was overjoyed until CPS stepped in to “help.”
It is another medical kidnapping according to the parents. The Rengos have chosen a wholesome, holistic lifestyle, based in their Christian faith. But CPS has stepped in to override the parents’ decisions. Now Erica and Cleave are living what they call a nightmare, separated from their children for reasons that don’t make any sense at all to them.
Decision to Home Birth
It was only natural for Erica to choose normal, family-centered birth. Erica herself was born at home, and says that her mother was a homebirth educator and La Leche League leader (a world-wide support and education group for breastfeeding mothers). She and Cleave chose a birth-center birth with their first baby, but decided to birth at home the second time. She knew that her body was perfectly designed to work for birth. She believed this was the direction God was showing them for the birth. Erica was very careful during her pregnancy to watch her diet and exercise, in preparation for the birth. She read, researched, and prepared.
She describes her homebirth as “exquisite” and “empowering.” Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente were born into their parents’ loving arms.
The birth was perfect. There were no complications with the birth or afterwards. But Erica and her husband Cleave agreed to allow the local paramedics in when someone called them, in an effort to appease concerned family members who were fearful of their decision to birth at home. That is where their problems began.
The Medical System Gets Involved
Sometime after the babies arrived on October 2, paramedics arrived to find the twins nursing and everybody doing fine. The twins each weighed over 5 lbs, and the paramedics allegedly verified that everyone appeared healthy. The paramedics allegedly recommended that they go to the hospital for evaluation, which is standard procedure for EMTs.
The Rengos say they declined, telling them they didn’t want to expose their newborns to the dirty environment of the hospital. They were planning to follow recommendations they had found, which stated that newborn twins should stay home for the first six weeks of life, to give their immune systems the opportunity to build up.
CPS Shows Up
The parents’ believe that because they chose not to go to the hospital at that time, somebody called CPS. A couple of social workers showed up the next day, and wanted to see all of the children. CPS told Erica that they were “here to help.” But Erica says that is not at all what happened.
When the social worker found some eczema on Levi’s skin Erica told her that she was treating it with some herbal remedies, including comfrey and calendula, as well as applying coconut oil and giving probiotics. She was also doing an elimination diet to try to locate what could be causing the skin condition. Even though it was in the healing process, the social worker became critical that Erica wasn’t treating his eczema with steroids, a treatment option that Erica wanted to save as a last resort because of the side effects. The CPS agent would later testify to the judge that Erica had neglected to treat him completely.
Even so, the eczema was the only thing wrong. Erica says, “right away they found out that the children were not in danger.” The twins were completely healthy; the house was clean; and there are no drugs or alcohol involved.
The Rengos agreed to take the children to a pediatrician, who said the babies were doing fine. The only concern was that the twins were slow to gain weight. At the time, Erica was trying to maintain a supply for three breastfeeding babies. She says she followed the pediatrician’s advice to supplement with formula, and the babies promptly got back on track with weight gain.
This was allegedly verified by a nurse sent out by CPS to check on them.
Erica May and Cleave are holistic in their approach to life and health, preferring natural alternatives, like herbs and diet changes, to medicinal treatments. Those things appear to be options only if CPS is not involved.
CPS Takes Custody of Children
On November 6, CPS showed up at the front door while Erica was softly singing and playing her guitar to her resting babies. When she checked the door, they told her that they were there to take her children, citing neglect for not giving Levi steroids for his eczema, and the home-birth without medical prenatal care with the twins, as well as the allegations of abuse, accusations which Erica had already assured them were completely unfounded. She also had prenatal care, just not with a doctor.
With one baby on her back, the frightened mother fled out the back door with her children to a neighbor’s house, but police and CPS “hunted her down,” and took these breastfed babies from their mothers’ arms. The twins were 5 weeks old.
Erica broke down into sobs as I spoke with her. “My children were safe and healthy with me.” Since they have been taken by CPS, Levi has reportedly had pneumonia, and has reportedly been diagnosed with “behavioral problems” because he screams and cries all the time.
He is screaming, Erica says, because he wants his mom and dad.
Why Are Children with No History of Abuse Being Taken Away from Loving Parents for Medical Reasons?
Children who have allegedly not been abused in any way have been taken by CPS from loving parents for reasons so flimsy that it has left the Rengos and their friends stunned. Several of their friends write that Erica is “a great mama.”
“This is not the right thing to do to mothers and children,” Erica emphasizes. “If they thought we needed help, they should have brought help in, not taken the children out. They have suffered and I have suffered since our separation.”
Erica feels that she and her children are being abused by the system. When they separate babies from their loving mothers, she says “they are dehumanizing people. The outcome of that is so much worse than any kind of dispute for medical reasons.”
Cleave and Erica were supposed to have their visitation with their children on Monday, but there wasn’t a social worker available to supervise the visit. Levi’s first birthday is on Black Friday. The day will be black for Erica and Cleave, but for very different reasons than the holiday retailers. They will miss their first child’s first birthday because CPS won’t have any workers available to supervise a visit that day either.
The Stressful Separation of Infants from Parents
Erica is a brokenhearted postpartum mother who wants nothing more than to be at home with all of her children by her side. Research shows that infants do not comprehend separation from their mother; they feel abandoned when they aren’t with her. Has it really come to the point where CPS can justify the emotional trauma to the children simply because parents don’t choose to follow every recommendation of the medical associations?
In President Obama’s immigration speech last week, he asked, “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?”
Yet it is this very nation whose Child Protection Service agencies have ripped tiny babies from their parents’ arms simply for the crime of disagreeing with a medical decision. If this could happen to a family who has only sought the most natural of care, then whose children are safe from CPS? Should this type of apparent medical tyranny be tolerated?
Erica May and Cleave Rengo face a court date on December 2. They don’t know what they will face then. Supporters are hoping that their story will be shared far and wide, and their children can be returned home quickly.
The Governor of Washington is Jay Inslee. His office number is 360-902-4111. You can email him from here.
The parents next court date is December 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham Washington.
Teenager Isaiah Rider has been back in the hospital for more than two weeks, and spent Thanksgiving in the hospital in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. However, the state of Illinois still has custody of him, and the hospital behind his “medical kidnapping,” Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago, is still allegedly affecting his care, or lack thereof. They are reportedly blocking him from receiving help for his suffering, according to the Team Isaiah Facebook Page.
Team Isaiah has posted a heart-rending video of the extreme pain and seizures that Isaiah is experiencing. This is what landed him back in the hospital. A doctor in Kansas City was allegedly going by the reports from Luries which have stated that Isaiah’s pain and seizures are all in his head.
“Isaiah needs help. 15 days of suffering and torture. Hours and hours and days and days and this is okay? IL is trying to block him from getting real help. IL is Trying to send him back to Luries who caused all this or hospitals who haven’t helped in the past. Isaiah has made it CLEAR he does not want to go back to your horrible hospital Lurie’s or go back to Chicago where bad things happened or taken from his family again . Why is IL blocking Isaiah from getting real help??”
The video, which is similar to other videos posted in the past recording Isaiah’s seizures in the stump where his leg was amputated, shows very real pain and involuntary movements. Yet he is not receiving effective medical treatment according to family and friends.
Many are asking, “how can this be tolerated?”
His family has expressed the desire to transfer him to another hospital in another state that has experience in dealing with the rare medical condition that he has. Isaiah has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a rare condition which causes painful tumors on the nerves. The hospital he is currently in does not have experience with this and is allowing him to suffer, according to family and friends.
Advocates have reported that nurses have watched his pain in tears, because he was in so much pain while the doctor in charge discontinued a treatment that was helping. That doctor has allegedly been removed from Isaiah’s care by the hospital administration.
Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago does have experience with Isaiah’s condition, and even has clinical trials going on. However, according to Team Isaiah Facebook Page:
“Isaiah Rider who has undisputed medical conditions was ripped from his mothers arms while in the ICU at Lurie’s hospital in Chicago.”
When Isaiah’s mother, Michelle, did what any other mother would do and begged them to help his pain stop, they accused her of causing the problems, saying that they were all in his head.
“His mother wanted help for her son, she wanted a second opinion, a transfer to another medical facility who was recommended. Isaiah wasn’t provided the parental protection he received from his mother when he was thrown into foster care, a strangers home in a very bad area on the south side of Chicago. The terrible things that happen to Isaiah while he was there have forever changed his life. This was all done in the name of ‘protection.'”
There are other hospitals in other states that could help Isaiah, but his family says they are completely powerless to get him that help, because the state of Illinois retains custody of him and refuses to transfer him to those hospitals.
Here are phone numbers to contact people who have power to help Isaiah – Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn (217) 782-6830 or (312) 814-2121, Bobbie Gregg, Acting DCFS Director (217) 785-2509 or (312) 814-6800.
The high rates of psychotropic drug use among foster children and poor children are likely a direct result of drug company tactics that targeted doctors in the Medicaid program, influencing them to prescribe more drugs to these kids
For foster children in the Medicaid program, nine out of the top 10 most prescribed drugs are psychotropics (compared to just one out of the top 10 drugs prescribed to non-foster children)
Across the US, 7.5 percent of children aged 6-17 take a prescribed medication to treat emotional or behavioral difficulties
Drug companies have paid billions of dollars in fines for illegally marketing psychiatric drugs to children, even when they aren’t approved for such uses
By Dr. Mercola
There is big money to be made in prescribing medications to kids – especially when those medications are intended to be taken for life, as many psychotropic drugs are.
These drugs, which include stimulants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers, carry the risk of serious side effects, including, ironically, psychotic symptoms (like hearing voices or paranoia), aggressive behavior, hostility, seizures, heart attack, delayed puberty, and more.
Oftentimes the side effects are far worse than the conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for which they're prescribed, and rival illegal street drugs in terms of their dangerous risks to health.
In children, the long-term effects are often largely unknown, while in the short term, we've seen shocking increases in violent and aggressive acts committed by teens taking one or more psychotropic drugs.
The number of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for USchildren more than doubled between 1995 and 2000, but a new investigation by the Denver Post revealed that foster children are prescribed such drugs at a rate 12 times higher than other children on Medicaid.1
This isn’t a mistake… the high rates of psychotropic drug use among foster children and poor children is likely a direct result of drug company tactics that targeted doctors in the Medicaid program, influencing them to prescribe more drugs to these kids.
9 of the 10 Most Prescribed Drugs for Colorado Kids in Foster Care Are Psychotropics
The Denver Postinvestigation revealed that for foster children in the Medicaid program, nine out of the top 10 most prescribed drugs are psychotropics (compared to just one out of the top 10 drugs prescribed to non-foster children). In 2008, drug companies spent close to $800 million for sales reps to visit healthcare professionals specifically for antipsychotics and antidepressants.
Sales of antipsychotics alone topped $18 billion in 2011, which is more than sales of vaccines and triple the amount spent on such drugs in 2002, the Post reported. More than 1 million US kids now take antipsychotics each year, and tens of thousands of them are under the age of 5. According to the investigation:
“High rates of psychotropic drug use among poor and foster children didn't occur by mistake, government investigators say. Court documents filed in healthcare false-claims lawsuits show that drug companies closely tracked the prescribing habits of doctors in the Medicaid program, which pays the healthcare of the poor, including foster children.”
What happens to kids once they become medicated at a very young age, during some of his or her key formative years? Do these children grow up never knowing who they really are? What passions they may have had if not under the drug's influence? And will they be able to quit when they are older, or will they be turned into life-long addicts? The answers to these questions are unknown, as are the effects of most of these drugs in children.
One in 13 US Schoolkids Takes Psychiatric Drugs
Data from the National Health Interview Survey revealed that increasing rates of psychiatric drug use among kids is not confined to Colorado alone. Across the US, 7.5 percent of children aged 6-17 take a prescribed medication to treat emotional or behavioral difficulties.2
Echoing the Denver Post investigation, the Health Interview Survey data also revealed that a higher percentage of children insured by Medicaid used psychiatric drugs, as did children in families whose income was below the poverty level.
Most Antipsychotics Prescribed to MedicaidKids Are for Off-Label Uses
One study from Rutgers University found that at least three-quarters of children prescribed antipsychotics through Medicaid took them for off-label uses, which have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).3 Among the most common conditions for which the drugs were prescribed were ADHD, conduct disorder, anxiety, and depression – none of which are FDA-approved for treatment with antipsychotics in children.
While a doctor can legally prescribe a drug for any use, even if it hasn’t been FDA-approved, it’s illegal for a drug company to advertise off-label uses or encourage a doctor to prescribe it as such. This, however, is precisely what many of them do, and billions of dollars in fines have been paid as a result. For instance:
Pfizer paid $2.3 billion for marketing fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica, and other drugs. Charges included marketing drugs to doctors for uses for which they had not been approved and giving kickbacks to doctors and other healthcare professionals for prescribing their drugs.
Pfizer hired 250 child psychiatrists to market its antipsychotic Geodon, even though it wasn’t approved for use in children. This was Pfizer's fourth settlement numbering in the multimillions in less than a decade.
AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses including ADHD, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Using Seroquel for improper use has been linked to an increased risk of death.
Johnson & Johnson paid $2.2 billion for illegal marketing of the drug Risperdal for unapproved uses in children. In addition to targeting more than 1,500 child psychiatrists, Johnson & Johnson also held a “Back to School Bash” marketing campaign that aimed to increase prescriptions of Risperdal in children via ice-cream parties and free snacks and lunches.
In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plead guilty in the largest health fraud settlement in US history. The company was fined $3 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability charges related to illegal drug marketing and withholding information about health hazards associated with its diabetes drug Avandia and others, including the antidepressant Paxil, which was illegally marketed to children and adolescents for everything from depression to shyness.
Eli Lilly paid $1.4 billion for promoting its antipsychotic Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children.
Why Are So Many Children Being Drugged?
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that up to 85 percent of children in the child welfare system meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis.4 But the diagnosis of mental illness in children is far from an exact science. Modern psychiatry has expanded its reach to the point that even the most normal of emotions and mental states now fall under one labeled "disorder" or another.
They have been able to cleverly redefine mental illness with the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This book is created by members of the American Psychiatric Association. You would think that diseases are put in this book after evaluating carefully executed scientific trials, but nothing could be further from the truth. Additions and changes to this manual are determined by votes by its members. This categorization is NOT based on science at all!
It is well-documented that psychiatric drugs in general, and atypical antipsychotics specifically, are misused across the board. Children as young as 18 months are now receiving antipsychotic drugs, despite the fact that the diseases they're designed to treat rarely develop before adolescence. So why are toddlers receiving these potent drugs? Sadly, one of the key reasons these drugs are used is their sedative effect. They're typically prescribed to control "disruptive" behavior – not to treat severe mental illness.
It's also come to light recently that the Harvard psychiatrists who invented the pediatric bipolar diagnosis were disciplined for conflicts of interest after it was revealed they'd all received millions of dollars in undeclared drug company monies.5 Even the AACAP admits “in many states there is a disproportionate number of children in foster care who receive psychotropic medication.” Indeed, according to a 2010 study, an estimated 20 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually misdiagnosed.6
Has Your Doctor Been Paid by Drug Companies?
Beginning in Fall 2014, you will be able to determine if a healthcare provider you trust is actually on the drug industry's payroll, thanks to a new federal law that entails the following:
Drug and medical device companies will be required to report and disclose all payments (including stock options, research grants, knickknacks, consulting fees, travel expenses, and more) to physicians. Unfortunately, payments to nurses, physician assistants, and other medical professionals will not have to be disclosed
The information will be displayed in an online government database that you will be able to search
In the meantime, you can search ProPublica's database to see the disclosed payments made to physicians in your state. Many of the most prestigious universities, including Harvard, are now banning their staff from receiving money from drug companies for speaking, and this new disclosure requirement will hopefully push more institutions in that direction.
Breaking the drug industry's stranglehold on the conventional medical industry will not be easy -- after all, the drug industry spends nearly twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development7 -- but the tide is beginning to turn. Increasing numbers of people are now waking up to these harsh realities, and you, being among those who are informed, can help share this knowledge with others. More than 1.5 million people receive this newsletter, and together, we can make a huge difference.
The ultimate goal is to have a critical mass of people refuse the unnecessarily dangerous and counterproductive solutions currently offered by conventional medicine, as this will be the powerful stimulus to generate authentic change. You can also act now, on a personal level, by making the necessary lifestyle changes that will allow you to take control of your health, instead of leaving it in the hands of the drug industry – especially when it comes to your kids.
Alternatives to Drugs for Behavioral and Emotional Challenges in Children
If your child is suffering from an emotional or mental challenge, please seek help, but do so from someone who does not regard psychotropic drugs as a first line of defense. Please understand that behavioral problems in children – including what might appear to be serious mental disorders – are very frequently related to improper diet, emotional upset, and exposure to toxins.
Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has successfully demonstrated the power and effectiveness of this theory. In her Cambridge, England clinic, she successfully treats children and adults with a wide range of conditions, including autism, ADD/ADHD, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems using the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Nutritional Program, which she developed.
Her GAPS theory – which is fully explained in her excellent book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome – is an elegant description of how such conditions can develop as a direct result of gastrointestinal toxicity. Another helpful tool is my three-part interview with a renowned children's health expert, the late Dr. Lendon Smith, on Non-Drug Treatment of ADD/ADHD. Here are a few additional guidelines to help you address underlying toxins in your child, without, or at least BEFORE, agreeing to any kind of drug therapy:
Additionally, whole and even sprouted wheat contains physiologically significant amounts of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), which can have adverse effects on mental health due to its neurotoxic actions. Wheat can also interfere with the production of serotonin, the largest concentration of which can, again, be found in your intestines, not your brain. Try eliminating all gluten-containing grains first for 1-2 weeks and see if you don't notice a significant improvement in your child's behavior.
Avoid giving your child ANY processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. This includes lunchmeats and hot dogs, which are common food staples in many households.
Replace soft drinks, fruit juices, and pasteurized milk with pure water. This is HUGE since high fructose corn syrup is a primary source of calories in children.
Make sure your child is getting large regular doses of healthy bacteria, either with high-quality fermented organic foods and/or high-quality probiotic supplements.
Give your child plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil. Also, make sure to balance your child's intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, by simultaneously limiting their intake of vegetable oils.
Include as many whole organic foods as possible in your child's diet, both to reduce chemical exposure and increase nutrient content of each meal. See my nutrition plan for a comprehensive guide to healthful eating.
Also reduce or eliminate grains from your child's diet, especially wheat. Beyond the fact that even healthy organic whole grains can cause problems as they, too, break down into sugars, gluten-containing grains have pharmacologically active peptides that can contribute to cognitive and behavioral issues in susceptible children.
Avoid artificial sweeteners and colors of all kinds.
Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise and outdoor playtime, remembering that midday sunlight provides the UVB wavelengths necessary to produce vitamin D3.
Get them out into the sun to help maintain optimal vitamin D levels. Scientists are now beginning to realize vitamin D is involved in maintaining the health of your brain, as they've recently discovered vitamin D receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. There's even evidence indicating vitamin D improves your brain's detoxification process. For children and pregnant women, getting enough vitamin D is especially crucial, as it may play a major role in protecting infants from autism. If natural sun exposure is not feasible, for whatever reason, you can use either a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement.
Be sure you are also providing positive praise to your child. Dr. Smith believed parents should be able to say nice things to their child twice as often as they give commands or ask questions. If you are shouting and scolding more than you are complimenting and rewarding your child, it could be contributing to psychiatric problems.
Prevent exposure to toxic metals and chemicals by replacing personal care products, detergents, and household cleaners with all-natural varieties. Metals like aluminum, cadmium, lead, and mercury are commonly found in thousands of different food products, household products, personal products, and untold numbers of industrial products and chemicals. Also be aware of exposure to metals from vaccinations and dental fillings. The presence of toxic metals in your child's body is highly significant, as they are capable of causing serious health problems by interfering with normal biological functioning. The health effects range from minor physical ailments to chronic diseases, and altered mood and behavior.