EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION
105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
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
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
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
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
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
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