Why Guidelines for Attention Deficit Won't Work

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released in the current issue of the journal, Pediatrics, its long awaited guidelines for the diagnosis and evaluation of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a problem, primarily in children, of excessive impulsivity, inattention and activity. Use of Ritalin, the controversial stimulant drug for ADHD has soared over the past ten years and the AAP guidelines are meant to bring some sense to the ADHD diagnosis and reassure an uneasy public about the overprescription of Ritalin.

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The Ritalin Wars Continue

[First appeared in the Western Journal of Medicine, December 2000]

Ritalin, the drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), cannot stay out of the news. Last week, class action suits filed in New Jersey and California allege a conspiracy between the pharmaceutical industry, medical doctors and the ADHD leading self help group to unnecessarily medicate American children with a dangerous drug. This news comes at the same time two hundred child mental health experts met in Washington for a two day conference sponsored by the Surgeon General on children's mental health. This and another conference in two weeks at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are a direct response to national concerns raised by a report last spring of an alarming increase in the use of Ritalin in toddlers. Hillary Rodham Clinton, was only the most conspicuous voice asking questions. And when the first lady asks a question, you better have some answers. But what's the parent of a school age child who is struggling in school to think about the Ritalin.

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