Wholesale Sedation of Young Children: Medically, Morally Indefensible

(first appeared in the Patriot Ledger, March 27, 2010)

The twin murder trials of the parents of Rebecca Riley, who died at age four of an overdose of the psychiatric drug, clonidine, have cast a spotlight on the beliefs and practices of the doctor who prescribed the drug.  Kayoko Kifuji was granted immunity in both trials in exchange for her cooperation for testifying.  Reactions from jurors, comments online and letters to the editor based on newspaper accounts of Kifuji’s testimony range from confusion, shock, and outrage directed at the doctor’s role in the tragedy.

Kifuji did go before a grand jury and was not indicted, avoiding any criminal prosecution for her actions.   Massachusetts’ medical licensing board, the Board of Registration in Medicine (BRM) initially suspended Kifuji’s license to practice medicine.  But after conducting an investigation the BRM fully restored Kifuji’s privileges.  She is now back at Tufts Medical Center practicing child psychiatry without any restrictions, penalties or supervision.

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Mother Guilty of Murder-Pediatric Bipolar Disorder Innocent

On February 9th a jury at the Plymouth Superior Court in Massachusetts convicted Carolyn Riley of second degree murder of her daughter, Rebecca, a 4 year old, who died three years ago. Rebecca’s father, Michael, will be tried separately for first degree murder next month. A county coroner determined an overdose of the medication, clonidine obtained from a child psychiatrist, caused Rebecca’s death.

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Does Taking Ritalin as a Child affect the Risk of Adolescent Drug Abuse?

"Does Taking Ritalin as a Child for Treatment of ADD Increase or Decrease Subsequent Risk of Adolescent Drug Abuse? Studies of Ritalin's Role in Drug Abuse Produce Contradictory Findings," by Marilyn Chase, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 1999, p. B1.

The Wall Street Journal, among the leading newspapers in the country, has arguably followed the Ritalin story over the years more closely than any other public news source. In this article the reporter once again raises parents' worst fears about using Ritalin in ADD -- putting their children at increased risk for subsequent drug abuse as adolescents. For many years addicts themselves have talked about their sensitization to stimulants based upon their receiving Dexedrine or Ritalin from a doctor as a child.

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