Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Drug Could Be a Lifesaver for Children

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Drug Could Be a Lifesaver for Children

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark porter

DR MARK PORTER'S MEDICAL NOTES CONTINUED FROM: PAGE 39 [L50776]LAST NIGHT'S Panorama questioned the widespread use of medication in childrenwith attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the light of newevidence from America that drugs such as Ritalin aren't that effective. Butexperts in the UK are more likely to say far from being overused, if anything,drugs are being underused. So why the discrepancy?

ADHD is thought to affect one in 20 schoolchildren in the UK, but in someschools in the US as many as one in five pupils are on medication for it,suggesting drugs such as Ritalin are grossly overused (American doctorscurrently prescribe 90 per cent of the Ritalin used worldwide). Little wonderthen that the drug doesn't seem to work as well as it should - many of thosetaking it probably don't need it.

Here in the UK the picture is very different. Not only is ADHD less commonlydiagnosed but also a child has to be pretty severely affected even to meet aspecialist in the condition, let alone be offered medication.

Dietary manipulation, educational and psychological support may be all that'sneeded in milder cases, but the more severe sufferers often require drugs suchas Ritalin. And the response can be dramatic and continue well into adult life(I am referring to adults with ADHD, which can be a lifelong affliction, notthose who abuse the drug for its slimming and stimulant properties).

No parent or doctor likes the idea of giving young children a drug that alterstheir brain chemistry but children with ADHD are more likely to end up on thewrong side of the law, abuse drugs and alcohol, be unemployed and find itdifficult to maintain relationships. In the more severe cases Ritalin canliterally be lifesaving. So let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sizing up an age puzzle HAVE you ever wondered why your weight creeps upinexorably as you approach middle-age, yet you still seem to be eating the samesort of foods and wearing the same size clothes? …

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