Quebec pediatricians propose solutions to treat ADHD
Pediatricians in Quebec are trying to call attention to how children with ADHD are being treated.
Last month, they sounded the alarm on overprescription of medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – but there's also the issue of video games.
They're now proposing solutions to improve children's overall health.
“I think that more physical activity and less screen time would be a useful thing,” said pediatrician Claude Poulin.
Doctors say data shows drugs to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin, are being prescribed to Quebec children at alarming levels at more than twice the rate of any other province.
The issue was on Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant’s radar last month when he announced a plan to hire hundreds of new professionals to help screen young children with learning disabilities.
“If we have more psychologists and more psych-educators available in the network, these children can be referred to professionals rather than be given medication right away,” he said at the time.
In their latest open letter, the pediatricians focus on video games, saying too much screen time can lead to ADHD symptoms or worsen them.
Video games have an impact on the brain because of the levels of dopamine released while playing, explained pediatrician Valerie Labbe.
“If all your dopamine is gone after a few minutes of gaming, video games, then you don't have any more for the rest of the day to get concentrated and to have the motivation to continue what you are supposed to do,” she said.
The doctors support the CAQ's plan to make 40 minutes of recess mandatory in elementary schools; two 20-minute blocks each day, morning and afternoon.
“Especially for our kids who have a diagnosis of ADHD, doing more physical activity would calm them and permit after to have more concentration and attention during class time,” said Labbe.
As for the overprescription of ADHD medication, PQ health critic Sylvain Gaudreault is calling for a new committee at the National Assembly to study the issue.
“Since the public letter from doctors, (there have been) many, many calls in our ridings about this issue. And I think many solutions are possible,” he said.
Some 60 pediatricians signed the second open letter, which suggests banning the use of cellphones and tablets during school hours unless the devices are being used for educational purposes, a policy that's already in force in some schools in the province.