BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 13:23 GMT
Loss of a child illness expert
Professor Steve Baldwin
Steve Baldwin joined the University of Teesside in 1998
Ten people lost their lives in the Selby rail crash on 28 February 2001. BBC News Online's Caroline Briggs looks at the story behind one of the victims.

Professor Steve Baldwin made fateful changes to his travel plans on the last day of February this year.

The University of Teesside academic had been invited by the Institute of Psychiatry to talk about his work with children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

He was to fly from his home town of York to London and take part in the debate, where he could voice his concerns over what he called the "quick fix" of drugging children diagnosed with ADHD.

But, excited at the chance of expressing his often controversial opinions, it was still dark as he rose early to catch the 0445 GMT Newcastle to London passenger express train.


In our opinion Ritalin is being used as a quick fix, and basically these children are being used as guinea pigs

Janice Hill, Overload Network

It was a decision that would cost him his life.

The renowned clinical psychologist was killed as the sun began to rise over the railway lines at Great Heck.

Years of research that was bringing new hope to hundreds of parents with children diagnosed with ADHD, died with him.

Professor Baldwin had dedicated the later part of his career to ADHD and was vehemently opposed to prescribing methylphenidates - such as Ritalin - to children.

He believed ADHD as a biological brain disorder did not exist, and that symptoms were caused by a number of social and psychological problems that could not be treated with pills.

He considered the massive rise in the number of Ritalin prescriptions a "public health scandal" and feared children were at risk from long-term damage.

Alternative treatment

Figures from the Department of Health show 157,900 Ritalin prescriptions were issued in the UK in 1999 compared to 126,000 in 1998 - a rise of about 25%.

In a statement to BBC News Online, Novartis, the company which makes Ritalin, said the drug's safety and efficacy is "one of the most widely researched areas in child behavioural disorders".


He [Professor Baldwin] was making such an impact here in the UK. I think there are a lot of people who are glad he has been silenced

Janice Hill, Overload Network

Novartis also said that many studies over the last 40 years have shown that the use of Ritalin in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has a very positive effect.

Professor Baldwin's determination to promote alternative treatments led to the setting-up of the first clinic in the UK aimed at treating children by psychological intervention rather than drugs.

He worked closely with Janice Hill, the mother of a child who had been prescribed Ritalin and who had established the Overload Network - a support group for ADHD-affected families.

Together they embarked on a pilot study at the University of Teesside-based clinic, looking at 100 families whose children had been prescribed Ritalin.

The results, published the day before his funeral, were startling.

'Absolute mayhem'

A significant number of parents reported their children suffered from side effects including appetite loss, headaches, hallucinations.

Others showed violent and self-destructive behaviour and even suicidal tendencies.

Ritalin
Ritalin can be prescribed to children with ADHD

Mrs Hill told BBC News Online the plans to extend the study had suffered a major blow when Professor Baldwin died.

"It has been absolute mayhem since Steve died, and of course it is the children who have been hit the hardest."

"In our opinion Ritalin is being used as a quick fix, and basically these children are being used as guinea pigs.

"Steve was very upset about children being on a cocktail of psychotic drugs and he wanted parents to be made aware that Ritalin is a form of amphetamine, that it has a more potent effect on the brain than cocaine, and that there has been no extensive research into long-term side effects.

"The clinic was offering people a real alternative to drug treatment for their children and it was just starting to reap the results.

"I'm now making plans to carry out the bigger study into Ritalin. Steve would have wanted us to continue his work.

"He was making such an impact here in the UK. I think there are a lot of people who are glad he has been silenced."


Key stories

Background stories

KEY COURT STORIES

IN PICTURES

CLICKABLE CRASH GUIDE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

02 Jul 01 | Scotland
26 Mar 01 | UK
25 Mar 01 | Health
05 Mar 01 | UK
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes