Tuesday, November 01, 2005

ADHD Medications Over-Prescribed

A study reported by the Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, concludes that although they can be useful, stimulants used to treat ADHD in children are probably over-prescribed.

The report says cautiously that many children taking stimulants have only mild symptoms of ADHD or don't have any at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 4 million children between 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADD. With boys being more susceptible than girls, this is roughly 6.5 percent of the population. 65 percent of these children are treated with stimulants. Government statistics also show that stimulants are being prescribed to those who have not been diagnosed with the problem.

Many factors are necessary in diagnosing ADHD including a series of interviews, and assessment of school performance, and emotional and learning difficulties. The report warns parents to be leary if a doctor makes a diagnosis and prescibes a medicine after only one visit. They recommend a second opinion if there's any questions after the initial diagnosis. Experts also believe that more than one doctor or therapist should be involved in the evaluation process.

Finally, the Consumer's Union does warn that stimulants have negative side effects such as sleeplessness, loss of appetitie, stomach pain, and headaches. The FDA is currently conducting a review of reports of side effects including psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts, instant death, and liver failure in people taking these medicines.

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