September 24, 2008

Ritalin ‘Should Be Prescribed to Fewer Children’


RITALIN, the controversial drug for calming hyper active children, should no longer be the first treatment offered to most youngsters, according to advice out today from an influential health watchdog.

The guidelines, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), recommend that the drug should only be used as the "first-line treatment" for youngsters aged six and over with severe cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Instead, Nice said the best way of helping children with the disorder was to provide their parents with training to help them use psychological techniques - such as using shorter sentences to improve communication - to deal with their child's "unruly" behaviour.

The institute also repeated its view that Ritalin should not be given to children aged under six.

Scotland's health watchdog, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (Sign), said it was revising its own guidance and pledged to take the new advice, which relates to England and Wales, into account.

It advised doctors in Scotland to consider Nice's guidelines and follow them if they felt that was in patients' best interests.

Campaigners who oppose treating youngsters with Ritalin welcomed the Nice guidelines as a step in the right direction, but leading doctors said it remained the best course of treatment, even for some five-year-olds.

In many parts of the UK, including Scotland, drugs are still seen as the automatic answer to ADHD - but sideeffects including insomnia, weight loss and erratic heartbeats have caused concerns .

Current guidance from Sign states that there is limited evidence that psycho social intervention helps to tackle the core symptoms of ADHD.

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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