Less ADHD medication prescribed

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DAK study: In recent years, fewer ADHD medications have been prescribed for toddlers, but more for children between 10 and 13 years of age.
After numerous critical reports and studies on the administration of an excessive number of medicines for an attention deficit (ADHD), apparently doctors have prescribed fewer medications such as Ritalin with the active ingredient "methylphenidate" to children. However, an increase in drug prescriptions can also be observed in older children.

Less ADHD medication for toddlers, but significantly more for children between the ages of 10 and 13 If children are restless and constantly push for exercise, many educators, teachers and doctors often make the diagnosis “ADHD” prematurely. The award of ADHD medicines has increased accordingly in recent years. Numerous studies and a clear criticism in public have apparently led to a certain rethinking of young children. According to a study by the health insurance company DAK, the number of prescribed ADHD medicines in children aged six to nine years fell by almost 24 percent from the end of 2007 to the end of 2009. However, a clear increase in the prescriptions of so-called ADHD medicines can be seen in children between 10 and 13 years. Around 23 percent more ADHD medications were prescribed in this age group.

Rapid ADHD diagnoses
According to a survey by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) in 2010, seven percent of parents in Germany believe that their child has the so-called attention deficit / hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD). This would mean that there are two children with ADHD in every German school class under 28 children.

However, many health researchers and critics believe that such conjectures are less realistic. The psychologist Johannes Klüsener warned of his time: "However, ADHD should not be used as a quick explanation for an exhausting child who does not behave according to parental, educational or social norms. Not everything that is conspicuous must also be pathological."

According to the health insurance company DAK, around 130,000 prescriptions for ADHD medication were issued to DAK insured persons in 2009, of which around 30,000 were administered to the 6 to 9 year old age group. The Professor Michael Schulte-Markwort from the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf was surprised at these new numbers. "The data are surprising to me, but very welcome," says Schulte-Markwort. The psychiatrist himself had not become more "hesitant" in the prescription of medications containing "methylphenidate". The first diagnosis is to try to help the child without medication. Primarily, psychotherapy is offered and support is provided for the parents. Medicinal products are only considered if all of the previous therapy offers fail.

Long-term consequences have so far hardly been investigated. ADHD drugs mostly contain the active substances "methylphenidate" and "atomoxetine". Known side effects include cardiovascular complaints, loss of appetite, difficulty falling asleep and growth disorders. An overdose can cause dizziness, palpitations, increased blood pressure and sleep problems. Some children also complain of abdominal pain, nausea and headache. There are still no studies on the long-term consequences of years of administering such drugs. Many critics suspect that such investigations do not take place in order not to endanger the sales market for medicines.

However, the ongoing criticism has led to a rethink overall. The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) has decided that in future there will only be limited approval for medicines like Ritalin. Only medical specialists may prescribe medicinal products containing methylphenidate to children. In addition, drug therapy must be interrupted regularly to check the effectiveness of the treatment. (sb, 10/01/2010)

Also read:
ADHD genetic?
ADHD: concentration through noise

Photo credit: Gaby Kempf / pixelio.de

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