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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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July 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 5)

Ritalin changes children's brain structure
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Ritalin changes children's brain structure image

ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder) drugs such as Ritalin alter the structure of children's brains. They change the distribution of white matter in the brain which affects the ability to learn—paradoxically, the very thing the drug is supposed to improve.

Profound changes to the brain were seen within four months of taking ADHD medication—and researchers who made the discovery have urged doctors to prescribe the drugs only when it is absolutely necessary.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam carried out MRI scans on the brains of 50 boys and 48 men who had been diagnosed with ADHD. Half the groups had been prescribed Ritalin (methylphenidate) and the rest were instead given a placebo.

After four months of taking the drug, the researchers saw significant changes in the white matter of the brains of the boys, but not the men, and there was no difference seen in the brain structures of the boys given a placebo.


(Source: Neuroradiology, 2019; doi: 10.1148/radiol.2019182528)

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