105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com

October 27, 2006

Wall Street Journal
To the Editor,

Elizabeth Bernsteins October 24th article that uncritically promoted the concept of infant mental health is deeply disturbing for several reasons.
First, agreement on valid diagnostic criteria for infant mental health is nowhere near the level portrayed in the article. Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at the National Institutes of Mental Health has admitted the diagnostic uncertainty surrounding most manifestations of psychopathology in early childhood. 

The National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy said in a 2005 paper, Diagnostic [mental health] classifications for infancy are still being developed and validated
Secondly, and very dangerously, this article will be used as an excuse to expand state and federal universal mental health screening programs based on these unscientific criteria that have arisen as a result of the Presidents New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.  The State Early Childhood Comprehensive System is funded through the Maternal Child Health Block Grant in 48 states. 

This program is described in Minnesota documents as a federally-funded grant project to coordinate and integrate early childhood screening systems to assure that all children ages birth to five are screened early and continuously for the presence of health, socioemotional [mental health] or developmental needs.  Both Indiana and Illinois have passed laws and are implementing plans for the mental health screening of all children birth to age twenty-one based on these federal reports and programs.
Thirdly, articles like this will further fuel the already alarmingly high and medically unjustifiable rates of psychotropic drug use in young children.  The 2000 study by Zito that found a 300% increase in the rates of psychotropic drug use of two to four year old children between 1991 and 1995, also showed three thousand prescriptions for the antidepressant Prozac in infants less than one year old.  Four to ten million children are on psychostimlants like Ritalin. 

A government study released this month found serious side effects in 40 percent of preschoolers studied and another 10 percent dropped out due to intolerable side effects.  Two-and-a-half million children are on antipsychotic drugs that are not FDA approved for use in children, except for Risperidal, which was just approved as a chemical straitjacket for autistic children with irritating behavior without a single public hearing. 

These antipsychotic drugs, associated with a shortened lifespan, have caused at least forty-five deaths in children, the youngest being four years old, and the FDA admits that 45 may only represent one to ten percent of the total. 
Finally, according to many of the same experts cited above, as well as numerous other independent studies, there is no evidence of long-term safety or effectiveness of either drug or non-drug therapy in these young children.  These experts cannot even agree on outcomes saying, Broad parameters for determining socioemotional outcomes are not clearly defined.
A broad and growing coalition of national groups, including The Alliance for Human Research Protection, EdWatch, ICSPP, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has formed to speak out against this scientific and ethical outrage being perpetrated against our children by the psychopharmaceutical establishment. 

One would hope psychiatry, government, and the Journal would listen and do no harm.

Dr. Karen Effrem

105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318 - 952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com
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