Medicating Your Child

One family's struggle to treat son's violent outbursts with anti-psychotics.
7:02 | 12/30/11

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Transcript for Medicating Your Child
Tens of thousands of preschoolers in this country. Are on anti psychotic medications and the number has doubled in the last decade. But most of these drugs in question have not been tested on children and doctors have no idea what their effect may be on the developing brain. Tonight we meet a family faced -- they profoundly difficult choice. Here's my co anchor Cynthia McFadden. This locally what you're seeing it's not just a momentary tantrum. But the stuff of everyday -- That hurt. Day in and day out cold on the bulls parents Jennifer and Chris have had to cope with his crashing and banging. And -- It's certainly not what they thought life would be like when they adopted him -- the new born seven years ago. I guess he -- he really was -- he. -- immune to be held and he never slept at -- lives. He's baby and maybe he -- a couple of -- but. He wasn't just a little -- -- -- two months they were already problem to daycare the woman says he's high maintenance. -- He isn't it friends these young and now wet what does high maintenance mean that the BB. In part it meant that by the time he was too -- was on date -- number four. He broke a picture on the wall pulled her curtains down and just turn the whole room upside down. You just have it and all outraged. This home video shows pull in one of those raids in his room stripped down to keep him from hurting. And Chris were just worried about cold hurting himself they were terrified he'd heard another child. When he was hitting our friends children. I started to worry. I think that might almost be worse from my heart to have him injured another child ordered. Kill him by accident or not by accident he sometimes he's angry. He is and that that scares me more than anything. His most frequent target his little sister Brendan. And well. This -- whole actually tried to kill his sister with a metal problem. I'm to the house and I heard the hit he hit her over the head -- And I -- according to an -- killer. -- But -- what was going on with coal. There were some clues -- birth father had bipolar disorder -- the couple was warned that cold could inherit. The disease. When we -- them we thought -- multifamily. Give -- good upbringing. This could maybe help them out little -- No woman in love seem to be helping cold but the time he was three and a half the family -- in turmoil. Call -- pediatrician doctor Ernest my -- says -- behavior was getting worse. And kids you see the kinds of issues call. We're isn't expected zero is his kidneys just mayoral candidate and is the worst he's seen -- scroll -- and pretty up there since this is -- Doctor Swire began by diagnosing him with ADHD. And -- mood disorder but there was more. Cole I think because of his family history and because he really cycles we'll probably end up. Hasn't dealt with the diagnosis of -- -- summer. And doctor SY -- had a treatment in mind and extremely controversial treatment. When Cole was only three and a half years old doctors -- her prescribed a potent mix of psychiatric drugs for him. Including at a role to treat is ADHD. And Sarah quilt to stabilizes mood. This -- And I can remember one I was scared to because every medicine we give him. There's always a death warning. What could happen. It's scary but you know we really didn't have the luxury of time we have another child and -- It was a big decision for she and her husband to put. Three and have -- way and big decision that you do you justices. You better for -- -- -- Like this area residents whose. It's his conditions. She. -- the men didn't work. Continued. He -- six and a half -- -- Hart took what many consider a radical next step prescribing lithium for coal. The powerful anti psychotic use for adults with a bipolar disease. -- -- He gets better with lithium he really if he has the region is now and -- -- subdued. -- That is awesome. Nevertheless the use of such drugs in very young children is highly controversial. Psychiatrist mark Olson has studied the breed at which anti psychotic drugs are being prescribed for kids. A rate that's double for preschoolers. In the last decade. You sense of how many. Children and. Adolescents are taking these anti psychotic drugs I've seen estimates as low as half a million in the course of the year but there -- other -- -- suggest several million children. Several million child that's right. That's part of the concern here is that most of the -- medications are being prescribed to children -- -- prescribed for things. Where we really haven't -- them and they -- not indicated. Most of these medications been tested in children. Only -- but only in very small samples so the people who were watching you right now and say how could -- -- history and a half ago. Your four and a half ago on these drugs -- for the. The first year I couldn't power. In he had his heels grown men who would you -- near that time but three funeral for -- her -- he -- the effects of the it's hot. And when he uses the parent. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- and by dinnertime -- evening dose is beginning to work he can barely keep his eyes open. Some of the side effects even for a child -- -- will need the medicine are obvious. This is a hard question to ask you. If you'd known then what you know now. Which have gone -- opinion the present yes. No question now. Even -- all the -- He still underneath about Hillary's its listed here if you're absolutely that would entry. It's funny it's like a mask you know -- -- puts the -- on -- parallel but the lankans thesis is on. Sweet loving little guy. -- look this boy. Man.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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