FRONTLINE: Medicating Kids Series

Lectures curated around FRONTLINE: Medicating Kids, which examines the controversial practice of medicating children. break This program also reports on parents, educators, and doctors trying to make sense of a mysterious and controversial mental diagnosis: ADHD. When Frontline first looked at ADHD in its report, Medicating Kids, doctors said they knew very little about the biological underpinnings of the illness. Researchers now say that although no one has nailed down a specific diagnostic marker, they have made significant progress in piecing together the puzzle. The most striking advances have come through brain imaging technology. Using fMRI scans, researchers can now pinpoint several interesting and possibly crucial differences in the brains of kids with and without the disorder. Doctors now confidently state that the brains of kids with ADHD are smaller by volume, particularly parts of the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. There is also evidence that parts of the brain’s gray matter in the anterior cingulate are thinner, which is a key area for processing emotional and more logical, fact-based information. These discrepancies in structure do not necessarily mean a child will develop the illness. But they are real differences and are part of an emerging answer. At the last authoritative count, in a study conducted by the CDC in 2004, the estimates are that 4.4 million children and adolescents have been diagnosed with ADHD. And as of 2003, 2.5 million kids, ages 4-17, are currently receiving medication treatment for the disorder.

Lectures curated around FRONTLINE: Medicating Kids, which examines the controversial practice of medicating children. break This program also reports on parents, educators, and doctors trying to make sense of a mysterious and controversial mental diagnosis: ADHD. When Frontline first looked at ADHD in its report, Medicating Kids, doctors said they knew very little about the biological underpinnings of the illness. Researchers now say that although no one has nailed down a specific diagnostic marker, they have made significant progress in piecing together the puzzle. The most striking advances have come through brain imaging technology. Using fMRI scans, researchers can now pinpoint several interesting and possibly crucial differences in the brains of kids with and without the disorder. Doctors now confidently state that the brains of kids with ADHD are smaller by volume, particularly parts of the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. There is also evidence that parts of the brain’s gray matter in the anterior cingulate are thinner, which is a key area for processing emotional and more logical, fact-based information. These discrepancies in structure do not necessarily mean a child will develop the illness. But they are real differences and are part of an emerging answer. At the last authoritative count, in a study conducted by the CDC in 2004, the estimates are that 4.4 million children and adolescents have been diagnosed with ADHD. And as of 2003, 2.5 million kids, ages 4-17, are currently receiving medication treatment for the disorder.