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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Experts: Don't Give ADHD Meds to Undiagnosed Kids

Neurologists say some doctors are prescribing these drugs as a way to boost school performance

continued...

While Graf acknowledged that the data about rising numbers associated with ADHD includes a number of cases that have been appropriately diagnosed as ADHD, he said the increase -- especially among older adolescents -- suggests a problem of overdiagnosis and overmedication.

"We should be more cautious with healthy children in treating them with drugs they don't need," he said. "The ethical balance tips against overuse and toward caution because children are still growing and developing and there's a lot we don't know."

The position paper, published online March 13 in the journal Neurology, was also approved by the Child Neurology Society and the American Neurological Association.

Dr. Mark Wolraich, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and chairman of the subcommittee that wrote ADHD guidelines for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that his group was not consulted in the development of the position paper Graf developed. Wolraich noted that the AAP also did not recommend the use of stimulant medications for performance enhancement or pleasure.

Yet Wolraich said he is concerned that recommendations against the use of ADHD drugs may confuse parents, who already are frequently hesitant to give prescription medications to their children for ADHD.

"The paper may have an unfavorable impact," Wolraich said. "I worry that we're focusing too much on the downside and it will deter people from getting the help they need. We have a lot of good evidence about the use [of medications] and it is clearly effective in the short term for treating the symptoms you see with ADHD."

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