Are Children With ADHD Over Medicated?

A study reveals an increase in incidence of children with ADHD and in the usage of medicines related to ADHD in school age kids.

Forty three percent of Canadian children with ADHD had been making use of medications in 2000, while the figure was fifty nine percent 2007. The research data is derived from a sample of kids aged 3 – 9 who took part in a survey.

The higher usage of medications by children with ADHD in Canada is a representation of the worldwide trend. Usage of drugs such as Ritalin has increased by double since 1994, when it had been 1.3 percent.

The research also revealed a reduction in the off label use of ADHD medicines, with the exception of preschoolers, where there was a small increase. A number of doctors could be prescribing ADHD medicines for treatment of other issues like oppositional conduct disorder or defiant disorder, which could explain the slight increase.

According to the study results, boys’ incidence of medication use, at about 3%, was more than that of girls; although girls showed the steepest increase eventually, as much as 2.1 times. This increase took place mainly in the 1990s, and for boys it was seen in the 2000s.

Preschoolers’ incidence of both diagnosis of ADHD and prescribed medicines remained stable between 1994 and 2007, while that of school age kids increased almost two times, suggesting that school environment plays a part in the increased usage of medications.

Can the rising trend in diagnosis of ADHD explain the higher usage of medications? Or is the opposite true? Both are plausible. Determining the factors related to these trends will be the only way to provide an answer to the question: Are children with ADHD over-medicated?

The question is not without merit, because ADHD is the most common mental illness in kids.

What is ADHD Infographic

What is ADHD Infographic


References: PMID: 22340149