More Summer Campers Juggle Pharmaceuticals
> 7/17/2006 9:45:36 AM

Summer camp directors and pediatric experts note that the number of pre-adolescent children on prescription drugs is at an all-time high, and that managing these chemical fixatives can be tricky. In a recent New York Times article, an executive with American Camp Association estimates that between one quarter and one half of all children enrolled in summer camps take at least one form of medication, for problems ranging from ADHD and asthma to depression and bedwetting.  Kids most often receive their meds at an organized morning hand-out, but strict oversight is often difficult. A company called CampMeds even distributes pre-packaged medication specifically designed for summer campers.

The fact is that the frequency of medicated children increases with each generation. Part of the upward trend in prescription obviously springs from a greater understanding of the varied conditions affecting young people. In many cases, the assured presence of neccessary medicines makes summer camp an option for children who might not otherwise be able to attend. Anxiety disorders, for example, are a very real issue for millions of Americans, many of them under the age of eighteen. Summer camp's cramped quarters and the absence of parents teach many children the beginnings of independence and responsibility, but they may also complicate medical conditions, including mood disorders.

Some argue that this phenomenon is only the latest evidence of overprescription among all segments of the population, particularly children. Along with asthma treatment, allergy remedies are the most commonly distributed meds among campers. It may be true that some of the allergy conditions are treatable with OTC meds and that parents should look into that option when considering treatments. Prescriptions for anxiety and depression are often, by nature, inexact. But many children need these medications, and their increasing prevalence is a modern reality. Assigning and distributing these meds correctly poses a new challenge to camp nurses and organizers, and greater regulation will move them closer to effectively managing the sheer volume of such responsibilities.

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