Use of stimulant medications to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents has increased significantly over the past several years – around the globe. Recently, we reported a staggering increase in the UK for children as young as three. That report included information of U.S. sales of ADHD stimulants more than doubling between 2007 and 2012, from $4 billion to $9 billion.
This particular study was done in Denmark and also found the trend toward increased use of prescription stimulants goes beyond ADHD to other types of neuropsychiatric disorders in children and teens, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The new study is published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology (JCAP), a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
Possibly the largest study conducted on ADHD med use to date reviewed more than 850,000 children born in Denmark between 1990 and 2001.
They found that 61% of children with ADHD, 16% of children with ASD, and 3% of those with other psychiatric disorders were treated with one or more medications typically prescribed for ADHD—methylphenidate, dexamphetamine, and atomoxetine.
The data indicated significant increases in the prescription rates of these medications during the years 2003 to 2010.
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of JCAP, and President, Child Mind Institute, New York, NY said:
This study utilizes a population-based national cohort of children and adolescents, and assesses stimulant treatment in children and adolescents with ASD. This is the largest and first prospective study to quantify the change in the use of treatment with ADHD medications over time.
The past decade has witnessed a clear and progressive increase in the prescription rates of medications typically used to treat ADHD in children and adolescents in Denmark. This increase is not limited to only those with ADHD, but includes others with neuropsychiatric disorders, including ASD. The risks and benefits of this practice await further study.
Why is this happening all over the world? Unless there are extraterrestrials who need help focusing, the prescription drug market doesn’t get any bigger than the entire world.
While stimulant drugs are absolutely absurdly over prescribed in children, one might take care not to discount entirely a brain function and nutritional deficiency issue that does indeed affect larger portions of people – even young children – everyday. And those problems are certainly exacerbated by things like environment, malnutrition, and diet. Otherwise, why would there be natural alternatives and diets offering to help with focus and concentration?
One cannot discount entirely the increasing issues of dopamine-uptake in the brain – thus, prescription-controlled substance narcotics to the rescue! But of course there are other options. More on that news and natural solutions soon….
Since overuse of dangerous ADHD drugs is definitely a huge concern, particularly in young children, it might be comforting to note the amount of doctors groups standing up against the staggering use of them on children.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan