Sroufe writes, "Attention-deficit drugs increase concentration in the short term, which is why they work so well for college students cramming for exams. But when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth."
Sroufe reviews a 2009 well-controlled study of 600 children: "However brain functioning is measured, these studies tell us nothing about whether the observed anomalies were present at birth or whether they resulted from trauma, chronic stress or other early-childhood experiences. One of the most profound findings in behavioral neuroscience in recent years has been the clear evidence that the developing brain is shaped by experience."
Sroufe goes on to discuss results from his own and other longitudinal studies and concludes, "Putting children on drugs does nothing to change the conditions that derail their development in the first place. Yet those conditions are receiving scant attention."
The conditions that derail development (including exposure to domestic violence, lack of social support, chaotic living environments, and parental intrusiveness) are conditions which are addressed by infant mental health (IMH) home visiting.
We are eager to hear from those of you working in or on behalf of IMH home visiting programs.
To read the full NY Times Op-Ed, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/childrens-add-drugs-dont-work-long-term.html?pagewanted=all