Rethinking Ritalin

Is it overprescribed for children with ADD?


Arecent National Institutes of Health conference called inconsistent diagnosis and treatment of children with attention deficit disorder “a major public health problem.” The most popular drug for treating ADD is Ritalin, or methylphenidate. In the past decade, methylphenidate production rose eightfold while production of amphetamines, also used to treat ADD, jumped 20-fold. Critics argue that ADD is being overdiagnosed, that stimulants are overprescribed to treat it and that long-term pediatric use of such powerful drugs poses serious health risks. But scientists, ADD experts and medical associations say that while isolated cases of overdiagnosing may occur, many more ADD cases still go undiagnosed and untreated.

Most of the world's Ritalin is consumed in the United States, mostly by suburban white boys.

(Photo Credit: Corbis Images)

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