Medicated Minors

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One out of two children in the U.S. are currently taking prescription medication, that's according to the 2002 Drug Trend Report. So does that mean that American children are sicker than they used to be?

Nationwide, almost three million more children take prescription drugs now than they did five years ago. But some medical experts say that doesn't necessarily mean medications are being over-prescribed.

Jennifer Wilkes says she's used to medicine breaks for her son. "My son, Bret, takes medication for asthma and allergies and he does it everyday so it's become a routine."

According to a recent Drug Trend Report more and more children are getting used to that routine as well. Spending on prescription drugs for children under the age of 19 has increased by 85 percent over the past five years. But some medical experts say this is good news.

"Parents are savvier, doctors have better diagnostic tools and, most importantly, we have new drugs for treating kids and keeping them healthy," says Dr. Louis Cooper, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Some doctors believe aggressive diagnosis and treatment on conditions such as asthma prevents hospitalizations, cuts overall health care spending and provides a better quality of life for children and their families.

Doctors say with this rise in medication taken by children, it's important for parents to have proper information about the medications. Parents should also have a plan for managing those prescription drugs while their child is at school.