Drugs 'are best way to treat children's ADHD'

Researchers said there was little evidence that drugs such as Ritalin were a form of “chemical cosh”

David Coghill, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, who took part in the study, said: "I think we have quite strong evidence to suggest that - in the United Kingdom and many countries outside the US - ADHD is under recognised and under diagnosed, and if you don't recognise and diagnose someone you don't have the option of what treatment they receive".

It's methylphenidate for kids and amphetamines for adults, according to a new study.

They said part of the problem is the idea that it is not a "real" condition - and is in fact used to label children who are simply naughty.

All drugs prescribed for ADHD, which include amphetamines, are stimulants, not sedatives.

The study was published online August 7 in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

Researchers compiling the biggest study yet comparing medical treatments for ADHD said that many British children were not being diagnosed or getting the help they needed. Cipriani is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in England.

He added: "It's important to note that the data available only allow us to compare the effectiveness at 12 weeks, when we know that both children and adults can be on these medications for longer". He said more study of their long-term effects is needed.

They said that there was little evidence to back up suggestions that drugs such as Ritalin were a form of "chemical cosh" and that children would be better off with less treatment. The researchers said, however, that it should be discussed with patients and caregivers, and possibly offered before ADHD drugs.

More children should be given drugs to treat ADHD, leading psychiatrists said last night.

ADHD is believed to affect 5 percent of school-age children and 2.5 percent of adults worldwide.

"With an increasing number of people being diagnosed with ADHD and given a drug prescription in the US, our study provides a starting point for medication, and hopefully helps patients more quickly find a drug that works for them", Cipriani said.

Currently, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends methylphenidate as first-line drug treatment in children and adolescents (with lisdexamfetamine as the second option, and atomoxetine or guanfacine recommended as third-line drugs), and recommend methylphenidate and lisdexamfetamine as first choices in adults.

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