Daily Archives: July 21, 2007

New Study Shows Ritalin Stunts Kids’ Growth

Men’s News Daily | Jul 21, 2007

ritalin-osAccording to the Washington Post, 10% percent of 10-year-old American boys are on Ritalin or similar drugs. From my experience as a teacher I can tell you that there are some kids for whom the drugs are useful–I’ve seen it firsthand. On the other hand, for most boys it is useless and counterproductive. The problem is not our boys–the problem is that our schools refuse to adapt and accommodate boys’ educational needs and learning styles.

In my co-authored column Resolving the Boy Crisis in Schools (Chicago Sun-Times, 5/7/06), I explained:

“Many healthy, energetic, intelligent boys are branded as behavior problems as soon as they begin school, and are punished and put on Ritalin or other drugs so they will sit still. Little thought is given to two obvious questions: how could a six or seven year-old be ‘bad’? And how could so many boys need drugs to function in school? Because schools and classrooms do not fit their educational needs, many boys disengage from school long before they ever reach the prep school level.

“Many modern educational practices are counterproductive for boys. Success in school is tightly correlated with the ability to sit still, be quiet and complete paperwork and assignments which are sometimes of questionable value. A ‘get tough’ mentality—under which teachers give excessive homework lest they appear uncommitted or weak—has become a substitute for educators actually having a sound reason for assigning all the work they assign.”

We now have one more reason to take action on the boy crisis in education–a major new study shows that kids who take Ritalin for three years are on average shorter and lighter than kids who don’t.

– Glenn Sacks


Study: Ritalin Stunts Growth

Research Shows That After 3 Years On ADHD Medication, Kids Are Shorter And Lighter Than Peers

CBS News, July 20, 2007

By Daniel DeNoon

(WebMD) After three years on the ADHD drug Ritalin, kids are about an inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers, a major U.S. study shows.

The symptoms of childhood ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) usually get dramatically better soon after kids start taking stimulant drugs. But this benefit may come with a cost, says James Swanson, Ph.D., director of the Child Development Center at the University of California, Irvine.

“Yes, there is a growth-suppression effect with stimulant ADHD medications,” Swanson tells WebMD. “It is going to occur at the age of treatment, and over three years it will accumulate.”

Whether these kids eventually grow to normal size remains a question. Kids entered the study in 1999 at ages 7 to 9. The current report is a snapshot taken three years later. The 10-year results — when the kids are at their adult height — won’t be in for two more years.

“The big question now is whether there is any effect on these kids’ ultimate height,” Swanson says. “We don’t know if by the time they are 18 they will regain the height.”

The finding appears to end decades of debate over whether stimulant medications affect children’s growth. Less than 10 years ago, a National Institutes of Health panel concluded that the drugs carried no long-term growth risk. That opinion was so widely accepted that the study authors — who include most of the leading ADHD researchers in the U.S. — did not warn parents that the study medication might carry this risk.

At the time, researchers thought that any short-term stunting of growth would be made up by a hypothesized “growth spurt” that would occur with continued treatment. But Swanson and colleagues saw no evidence of such a growth spurt.

NATO jets tail Russian aircraft for second time in a week

Stars and Stripes | Jul 21, 2007

By Bryan Mitchell

RAF MILDENHALL, England — For the second time in less than a week, NATO air forces scrambled fighter jets on Friday in response to Russian aircraft straying toward — and allegedly into — British airspace.

Officials from Norway and Britain confirmed Friday they dispatched fighter jets four days after a contingent of Norwegian F-16s and British Tornados shadowed a set of Russian aircraft traveling toward British airspace.

Russian officials, meanwhile, denied the incident, which occurred amid the escalation of the diplomatic row between the United Kingdom and Russia over the extradition of a high-profile Russian murder suspect.

“The planes did not disturb British airspace, but they fulfilled the pre-planned flights,” said Russian military spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky through an interpreter. “We planned such flights a half-year ago.”

Russian air force commander Col. Gen. Alexander Zelemim also issued a statement through an interpreter.

“Our flight was above neutral waters,” Zelemim said. “Such flights were fulfilled and will be fulfilled again to the plans of the air force.”

A British Ministry of Defence spokesman, however, said a set of Tornados from RAF Leeming in Yorkshire intercepted two Russian aircraft early Friday morning after they violated British airspace around 2 a.m. London time.

Norwegian military spokesman Lt. Col. John Inge Oeglaend told the Associated Press that the country’s F-16s were scrambled twice. The first time, they sought out two Russian Tu-95 bombers headed south along the Norwegian coast in international airspace. Those bombers turned around above Aberdeen on Scotland’s North Sea coast.

In the second, two Tu-160 bombers were seen flying near Norwegian airspace over the Barents Sea, he told the AP.

Oeglaend told the wire service that the incidents were routine but said it was a “bit unusual that the first two bombers went so far south.” Aberdeen is about 50 miles below the southern tip of Norway.

The second military scrambling this week occurred as relations between Britain and Russian soured further when Russia responded to Britain’s expulsion of four diplomats from London by expelling four British diplomats from Moscow.

Britain remains steadfast in its demand to extradite Andrei Lugovoy for the alleged murder of Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a radioactive substance in November at a posh central London hotel.

Biometric access system benefits from smoking ban

Security Park | Jul 16, 2007

The smoking ban which came into force on the 1st of July is providing a boost for Newcastle upon Tyne based ‘fingerprint entry’ specialist UK Biometrics Ltd, as nightclubs seek a secure way to allow customers out of their venue for a cigarette.

The city centre location of many nightclubs means installing an outdoor smoking area is not an option. Current ticket, swipe card or hand-stamp identification methods are open to abuse since they can be swapped outside the venue, putting owners at risk of allowing under age drinkers or known trouble makers entrance.

With the UK Biometrics Membership System, developed on Tyneside, nightclub management know that the person re-entering the club after a cigarette break is the person who originally paid to enter.

UK Biometrics Managing Director Matthew James said: “Allowing exit and re-entry to a venue has always been a feature of our system, but we noticed a massive increase in interest when we attended BAR07 exhibition at Earls Court in early June this year. Since then we have been demonstrating the system to venue owners and managers throughout the UK. Our ability to allow people to leave for a smoke and re-enter is a welcome catalyst to sales”.

The first UK nightclub to install a biometric access system was Blu Bambu in Newcastle’s Bigg Market in April 2005 when it was haled by Newcastle City Commander, Chief Superintendent Chris Matchell as “an absolutely brilliant idea”. Since then the system has been installed in clubs and venues throughout the UK.

Customers bring quality ID (passport, driving licence) only once, register their fingerprint on the system, and thereafter staff know exactly who they are. No actual fingerprints are stored so concerns over human rights can be allayed. Instead the system recognises key points on the fingerprint and converts these into data which is then encrypted and stored.

McCain Loses It and Flees After 9/11 Truth Questions

JonesReport.com | Jul 18, 2007

Senator Refuses Demands for a New Investigation, Claims “Additional Information” About 9/11 and Leaves Event Irritated and Angry

by Aaron Dykes

Republican presidential candidate John McCain was literally overwhelmed by reporters from WeAreChange.org and Infowars.com seeking 9/11 truth during a campaign stop.

McCain, who wrote the forward to Popular Mechanics’ Debunking 9/11 Myths, repeatedly told reporters, “I do not support a new investigation” and stated that he believes the “9/11 Commission did a good job.”

But other reporters continued to hammer the complicit senator with further questions and demands for a new 9/11 investigation. Seemingly frustrated that he could not simply brush off 9/11 truthers, McCain retreated to his SUV where he entertained questions from the mainstream media only.

Staff members attempted to take away a bullhorn and remove alternative media from the site, but backed off at warnings not to assault the reporters or stifle the first amendment.

Reporters cited hundreds of witnesses, including police officers, firefighters and former janitor William Rodriguez, who all reported hearing bombs go off in the lower levels of the WTC towers– accounts that contradict the basic findings of the 9/11 Commission.

McCain flatly told reporters that he did not support a new investigation and claimed to have “additional information,” stating that he did not believe there was a cover-up.

If such settling “additional information” indeed exists, John McCain has an obligation to share it– though the mere fact that he has withheld information about 9/11 from the public seems to directly point to a cover-up.

Reporters also asked McCain about links with Ed Failor of Iowans for Tax Relief who hosted the recent televised forum for Republican presidential candidates and expressly left out Congressman Ron Paul. John McCain admitted that Ed Failor was a paid staff member working for his campaign.

McCain wrote in Debunking 9/11 Myths, “Blaming some conspiracy within our government for the horrific attacks of September 11 mars the memories of all those lost on that day.”

Yet when reporters emphasized the fact that it is family members of 9/11 victims who want a new investigation, McCain merely walks away.

Sick Kids Might Do Best Without Drugs

U.S.News & World Report | Jul 12, 2007

By Katherine Leitzell

Antibiotics have been called wonder drugs, and that they are—sometimes. Increasingly, however, researchers focused on children’s health are identifying conditions in which the drugs seem to be useless, or worse. One recent study, for example, suggests that preventive use of antibiotics doesn’t help kids who’ve previously had urinary tract infections. Another indicates that use of antibiotics for any purpose may increase kids’ risk of developing asthma.

Only a small percentage of children develop UTIs. But about a third of those who do have a condition in which urine flows backward into the bladder, which puts them at high risk of getting reinfected. For those kids, doctors often prescribe daily antibiotic therapy in hopes of preventing a recurrence.

This daily preventive treatment isn’t effective, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. Moreover, children who developed a recurrent UTI during the study were more than seven times as likely, if they had received daily antibiotics, to have a drug-resistant infection rather than one that could be treated with common antibiotics.

“The more antibiotics a child is exposed to, the more likely [he or she is] to develop a resistant infection,” says Patrick Conway, a pediatrician now at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and leader of the study. He and other doctors say that an increase in resistant bacteria is leading to more serious infections and hospitalizations from what used to be easily treated ailments, especially in children.

It’s hard to keep the big picture in mind when a child is sick, concedes Conway. However, he says, parents and doctors should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of antibiotic treatment before administering the drugs. In children, antibiotics can cause side effects like diarrhea and skin rashes.

In a separate study, Anita Kozyrskyj of the University of Manitoba in Canada and her colleagues found that children who had received multiple courses of antibiotics in the first year of life faced an increased risk of developing asthma later on. Kids who got four or more courses of antibiotics increased their risk by 1 1/2 times, the researchers reported in the June issue of the journal Chest.

One explanation for this finding, according to Kozyrskyj, is that exposure early in life to a variety of germs helps the immune system develop normally. Indiscriminate antibiotic treatment could interfere with that development. “This hypothesis basically says that the world has become too clean,” says Kozyrskyj. “If you’re exposed to germs in early life, you’re less likely to develop allergic diseases such as asthma.” (The idea is supported by another of the study’s findings: Infants exposed to dogs, which presumably bring babies into contact with a host of unfamiliar germs, have low rates of asthma.)

Pediatricians don’t suggest abandoning antibiotic treatment entirely, but many now recommend a period of “watchful waiting” before treating illnesses like ear infections with antibiotics. Conway points out that a large proportion of childhood illnesses are caused by viruses, which are immune to antibiotics and, in any case, usually clear up on their own within a few days.