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News2007October › ADHD: Toddlers are given powerful drugs that aren't licensed or safe › October 2007

ADHD: Toddlers are given powerful drugs that aren't licensed or safe

Children as young as three are being given a powerful drug such as Ritalin to treat their ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) - even though it's not licensed for use among small children, and nobody's been checking to see how safe the drug is in this age group

Children as young as three are being given a powerful drug such as Ritalin to treat their ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) - even though it's not licensed for use among small children, and nobody's been checking to see how safe the drug is in this age group.

Early studies suggest that around a third of small children given Ritalin or another ADHD drug have such a bad reaction that they have to stop treatment. Reactions have included sleeplessness, irritability, repetitive behaviour or thoughts, and appetite loss.

The drugs also affect the child's growth. Children on an ADHD drug are around 20 per cent shorter, and 55 per cent lighter, for their age.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007; 298: 1747-9).

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