Saturday, October 25, 2014
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ADHD drugs should not be prescribed to help kids study

The American Academy of Neurology recently warned doctors to stop prescribing ADHD medications to healthy children to give them a boost in their schoolwork.

ADHD drugs should not be prescribed to help kids study

Prescribing drugs solely to boost thinking and memory functions in children and adolescents who do not have neurologic disorders should never occur.  Practitioners should not let parents or patients bully them into prescribing stimulants and other psychoactive substances to improve academic performance, according to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in a paper earlier this month.


“Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication,” said author William Graf, MD, of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. in a press release. “The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable.”

Not only do parents come in to turn their “B” student children into “A” students, but prescription stimulants are also widely sold illegally on high school and college campuses worldwide.

The effect of stimulants drugs (such as “Ritalin” and similar medications) on people without attention deficit disorder is very different than that on people with ADD. While stimulants calm down people with ADD, they make people without ADD become hyperactive and in rare cases violent.  

Stimulants do make everyone concentrate a bit better and can improve grades and athletic performance in some cases. But it doesn’t mean that they should be used in these situations. About nine percent of Major League Baseball players are diagnosed with ADD (which is more than twice the expected number) and forbidden stimulants are the most common reason for drug suspensions in baseball.

There are alternatives to neuroenhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits and exercise regimens, Graf said.

Read more from the Healthy Kids blog »

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAAAI, FACAAI Associate Professor of Medicine in division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology at UC Davis
Mario Cruz, M.D. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Magee DeFelice, M.D. Division Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D., ABPP Director of Integrated Health Care for American Psychological Association
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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