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David Mittleman
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Use of ADHD Medications in Normal Children on the Rise to Improve Performance

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In the past decade, diagnoses of ADHD or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, have risen steeply. Accordingly, prescriptions for ADHD medications have also risen, but not only for those who actually have ADHD. Prescription have also risen for children and adolescents looking for an edge in test-taking. This has raised the attention of a group of neurologists and bioethicists.

The misuse of stimulant medications like Ritalin typically used to treat ADHD is becoming more commonplace, with 3.4% of 12th graders acknowledging that they have used such medications within the last year for purposes other than for ADHD. Additionally, 2.9% of 10th grade students and 1.6% of eighth graders acknowledged having taken ADHD medications for non-prescribed uses. These results come from a federal yearly survey of youth drug use.

In a recent study, neurologists and bioethicists wrote about the widening use of ADHD medications in children who do not necessarily have an ADHD diagnosis but may be falling short of academic expectations. They argue that doctors who are confronted with parents or minors requesting ADHD medication have a fiduciary responsibility and social obligation to explain that there is no evidence to support the use of such medications in healthy, normally developing children. The authors stop short of saying that taking ADHD medications endangers health, but note that these medications can raise blood pressure and heart rate.

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  1. Mark Bello says:
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    Dave,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Mark