Is The Primary Cause of Attention Deficit Disorder an Iron Deficiency?

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As a street drug, methamphetamine is known to pose mortal risks, but as Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention problems among school children, the FDA says it can't find a causal relationship between the drug and recent cardiac deaths. A review of the medical literature indicates attention deficit disorder is an iron deficiency, not a drug deficiency.

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10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with methylphenidate [Ritalin].

Attention Death-icit Disorder: The FDA Looks The Other Way While Young Children Die

The duplicity of it all – while the Consumer Products Safety Commission recalls a defective baby crib because one child became entrapped between the mattress and the footboard of the crib and suffocated. [CPSC February 8, 2006 Release #06-086], the Food & Drug Administration only mandates a warning be printed on the package insert for Ritalin, the stimulant drug that 1.5 million school kids take every day, which is now associated with 19 confirmed childhood deaths due to cardiovascular problems.

The FDA certainly knows that the street-drug variety of Ritalin, methamphetamine, also known as "speed," "crystal," "crank," "go," and "ice,” causes heart problems. In a recent report in the journal Resuscitation, doctors at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta report that heart enlargement is a “well-recognized complication of methamphetamine abuse and is a strong independent risk factor for sudden death.” [Resuscitation 66: 197-202, 2005]

The Centers for Disease Control publication, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Reports, cites that the number of methamphetamine-related street drug deaths nearly tripled from 1881 to 1994, from 151 to 433. [MMWR Dec. 1, 1995, 44: 882]

Yet the FDA claims there is insufficient data for a causal link for cardiac death with methamphetamine as Ritaln for behavior problems in school, when it has clear mortal side effects as an illicit street drug.

While health authorities on one hand talk about a “war against street drugs,” which includes "meth," it is approvingly dispensed under the authority of a doctor’s prescription millions of times a year to young school children. [Journal Drug Education 30: 423-33, 2000]

In 1999, 9.9 million US prescriptions were written for Ritalin with an estimated 1.5 million U.S. children currently using the drug each school day. Sales of Ritalin in 2001 in the US were more than $600 million. In 1995, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a agency of the World Health Organization, deplored that “10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with methylphenidate [Ritalin].” The United States uses approximately 90% of the world's Ritalin.

Is iron deficiency the cause of ADHD?

There is mounting evidence that iron deficiency is the primary underlying cause of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Growing children have high demand for iron. Young children need to make millions of red blood cells per second to keep up with rapid growth. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin in oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Indisputable evidence links poor school performance with iron deficiency.

European doctors now report a documented case of a 3-year old child with ADHD with confirmed iron deficiency who improved following iron supplementation. [Pediatrics 116: 3732-34, 2005]

Doctors in France report that 84% of children with ADHD have low iron storage (ferritin) levels compared to just 18% of normal children. Iron storage levels are nearly twice as high in normal compared to ADHD children. French doctors say “These results suggest that low iron stores contribute to ADHD and that ADHD children may benefit from iron supplementation.” [Archives Pediatric Adolescent Medicine 158: 1113-15, 2004]

When 14 boys, aged 7-11 years with ADHD, were given iron supplements their iron storage levels nearly doubled and their behavior improved. Many of the boys iron levels were considered near normal prior to supplementation but their behavior improved, meaning it’s possible the normal range needs to be updated. [Neuropsychobiology 35: 178-80, 1997]

It is widely known that children with iron deficiencies are at a disadvantage academically. [Journal School Health 75: 199-213, 2005] Why school administrators and physicians have opted to treat attention problems in school children as a drug deficiency goes unexplained.

Signs of anemia include cold hands and feet, night-time leg cramps, craving acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes), pale skin, need to take naps, and fatigue. Meat, particularly red meat, provides highly absorbable iron. Vitamin C increases iron absorption from foods.

While iron supplements for children can be problematic, causing symptoms of nausea, vomiting and constipation, and accidental overdose by young children can pose mortal risks, health authorities recommend the common form of iron supplements (ferrous sulfate) be replaced with carbonyl iron (Ferronyl), which is a much safer and less toxic type of iron supplement. [Regul Toxicol Pharmacology 36: 280-86, 2002] Even in cases of overdose with carbonyl iron, toxicity did not occur in young children. [Veterinary Human Toxicology 44:28-9, 2002] Carbonyl iron is the preferred form of iron supplement for homes with young children.

Over-use of iron pills is not recommended. Once anemia is corrected, iron supplements may only be needed once a week rather than daily. Full-grown males and postmenopausal or posthysterectomy females are at risk for iron overload and use of iron pills should be judiciously evaluated.

Copyright 2006 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.


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William Sardi
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