Monday, November 19, 2007

AD/HD is Real and the Earth is Round

MSN UK News Editor Laura J. Snook recently wrote an opinion piece on AD/HD entitled “High on life: The biggest health care fraud in history.” Below is CHADD’s response to Ms. Snook’s misinformation, which we posted on the MSN UK Web site.

AD/HD is Real and the Earth is Round
Laura Snook’s piece is a prime example of the types of misinformation that can be disseminated on the Internet through what are otherwise reputable Web sites. Practically all of the assertions that she makes in this story about AD/HD are inaccurate and completely unscientific.

It is worth noting that Ms. Snook chose to reach back several thousand years to quote Hippocrates about AD/HD, when she could have highlighted the mountain of evidence in recent years from government and academic researchers that shows AD/HD is a real neurobiological disorder that can have devastating consequences if left untreated.

In fact, Ms. Snook did not reference one single researcher who has had his or her work on the subject published in a peer-reviewed journal. Instead, she relied on anecdotal information and urban legends (We’re drugging the Tom Sawyers again!) to make her point. It’s quite interesting that even she unwittingly provides numbers in her story that clearly show that a considerable number of people go untreated.

True, many children can at times demonstrate inattentiveness, restlessness, forgetfulness, and hyperactivity. That is not necessarily AD/HD. But for millions of children these symptoms can become so severe that they can lead to, among other things, school failure, car accidents and even incarceration. Later in life they can interfere with employment, relationships, and general well-being.

As the father of a 17-year-old son with AD/HD and co-occurring challenges, I know the disorder can make every day a struggle for happiness and success. Ms. Snook declares that she will never be a parent, but those of us with children want what is best for them. Professional, community, faith-based, family, and peer supports are helpful to us. Ideological declarations about Hippocrates, on the other hand, are not.

The best in scientific research, including recent study findings, shows us that a combination of medication, behavioral management, parent/child education about the disorder, educational adaptations, and parent training are all important to effectively treating the disorder.

Anyone interested in information that is more recent than vague comments from over 2,000 years ago, can visit the Web sites of the following U.S. organizations and government institutions: CHADD, the National Resource Center on AD/HD, a program of CHADD, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the meantime, it is our hope that Ms. Snook will refrain from relying on antiquated information, urban legends, and emotional arguments to address questions that have been answered by recent scientific studies. We’re afraid she will soon be quoting people from the Middle Ages about the shape of the earth!

E. Clarke Ross, DPA
Chief Executive Officer
Children & Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD said...

E. Clarke Ross, D.P.A. 11/19/07 (11:21 p.m. Pacific Time)
CHADD National Office
8181 Professional Place - Suite 150
Landover, MD 20785
Re: ADHD is Real and the Earth is Round, blog, 11/19/07

Dear Mr. Ross,
You write, that you are responding to “Ms. Snook’s (MSN-UK) misinformation.” Had you read as far as the middle of the article you would have discovered that MSN-UK News, interviewed me—a physician, a neurologist and child neurologist, for the article. I told them simply, and factually, there was no proof in the medical-scientific literature of the world that ADHD was a disease (objective physical abnormality = disease = disorder = syndrome = abnormal phenotype), and, therefore, that there was no physical examination or test to objectively confirm it’s presence, person-by-person, child-by-child.
Without acknowledging me or my input to the article, you continue: “Practically all of the assertions that she (Ms. Snook) makes in this story about AD/HD are inaccurate and completely unscientific.” Instead of attacking Ms. Snook, not really the bearer of the challenge, all you and CHADD had to do was cite/reference that article in the literature that proves that ADHD is actually a disease. This is routine in the practice and literature of medicine and surgery. For example, in 1972 I discovered, in my own private practice, a family with a unique combination of physical signs (objective), not symptoms (subjective--never, regardless of number, or duration, an abnormality = disease). The affected children in this family had curly hair, fused eyelids-ankyloblepharon (surgically opened at birth) and nail dysplasia. I took the suggestion of Dr. Victor A. McKusick and called it CHANDS (curly hair-ankyloblepharon-nail dysplasia). The initial description of CHANDS and proof of not one, but three physical abnormalities, in unique combination, can be found at: Baughman, F. A., Jr.: CHANDS: The Curly Hair-Ankylogle-pharon-Nail Dysplasia Syndrome. The Clinical Delineation of Birth Defects, Volume XII, 100, 1972.
Likewise, the first description of the Glioma-Polyposis Syndrome (disease = disorder = syndrome = abnormal phenotype) can be found at: Baughman, F. A., Jr., List, C. F., Williams, J. R., Muldoon, J. P., Segarra, J. M.: The Glioma-Polyposis Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 281:1345-1346.. The first description of essential tremor in Klinefelter’s syndrome can be found at: Baughman, F. A., Jr., Klinefelter’s Syndrome and Essential Tremor (letter), The Lancet, 1969: 545.
The burning question about “ADHD” has always been, and remains: “Is it a disease—yes or no?” Sir, why is it that you are responding to a question about medical science when you have many physicians on your professional advisory board, as well as at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and throughout academic psychiatry who are at your disposal. CHADD should designate a medical professional to produce the cite/reference proving that ADHD is a disease. This after all, has been CHADD’s response whenever asked, over the years, albeit with never a citation/reference to actual proof. All of your published materials and public utterances say this, keeping the proof, if any, to yourselves. Why? It is time to be out with it, to produce it—the proof, that is.
Are the millions being “treated” really diseased, or, are they normal? When push comes to shove, CHADD does produce articles from the scientific literature and does call them proof, but what they produce is never the actual proof called for before a single child/patient can be called abnormal/diseased.
But I won’t prejudge you, Mr. Ross. What MSN-UK, Ms. Snook, and I would like at this moment is the proof. We will give you a day or two to present it or to confess there is none. One proviso: As I have shown above, original case reports of new diseases are contained in a single publication, often a quite short publication. Please get to me 11/20 or 11/21 with a copy to MSN-UK and Ms. Snook with the cite/reference (if you have the full article that would be appreciated) to the article constituting proof that ADHD is actually a disease. I will look for them by e-mail, tomorrow, 11/20/07.
Do recall, that on November 18, 1998, the final day of the National Institutes of Health, ADHD Consensus Conference, the Panel of the Conference concluded:
“ ...we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.”

Sincerely yours,
Fred A. Baughman, Jr. MD

Cc MSN UK News Editor Laura J. Snook

Anonymous said...

Well, thank you for your libellous remarks about my recently penned opinion piece on MSN - which, I note, fail to acknowledge my reference to the latest scientific study into ADHD, just published in the US. It is interesting to note also that you choose to ignore the fact my observations were all heavily qualified, drawing on my own firsthand experience of the condition. Perhaps you could deign to contact me directly before launching such a personal, not to mention spineless, attack in future:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Thank you for fighting the good fight. How could MSN let someone like this write such non-sense. Keep up the good work. I am a fan of your blog.