- Note - We consider it vitally important
to listen to the Archive programs with Dr. Peter Breggin, MD, or to read
his book, "Talking Back To Ritalin", if you have children or
care about children.
- ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity
disorder who are treated with drugs including Ritalin have dramatically
improved behavior over children treated only with therapy, according to
a new study.
- The study's early findings should quiet
some of the criticism of drugs such as Ritalin and encourage doctors to
stop blaming "bad parents" and teachers, said Peter Jensen of
the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the authors.
- "There's been a lot of blaming the
victim," Jensen said. "But looking at these results, we can't
say better parenting is the answer for most of these kids."
- The authors presented their preliminary
results at the American College of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting
in Anaheim on Friday. They believe it is the largest study of the disorder.
- ADHD affects 3 percent to 9 percent of
all children, affecting their ability to focus. It accounts for one-third
to one-half of referrals for mental health services for children.
- "Treatment can mean the difference
between a kid ending up at Berkeley or ending up in prison. This is a disorder
where we can really make a difference," said James Swanson, pediatrics
director at University of California, Irvine, and one of the authors.
- Critics say doctors are too quick to
diagnose ADHD and over-prescribe drugs for children.
- But Jensen said the problem is that thousands
of children aren't treated and more than half of children with the disorder
have not been diagnosed.
- The 600 children in the study, ages 7
to 9, were randomly placed in one of four groups: medication; psychosocial
(behavior-modification therapy, social-skill building and summer programs);
combination medication and psychosocial; and referral back to the community
- For the children receiving medication,
if Ritalin didn't work, other medications were tried until each child was
taking the drug and dose that was the most effective for him or her. Clinicians
monitored those children and visited with them and their teachers each
- Intensive psychosocial therapy included
training for parents and summer camps that stressed social skills for the
- After 14 months of treatment, 12 percent
to 15 percent of children on medication or a combination of therapy and
medication were diagnosed with ADHD, while 32 percent to 35 percent of
children on psychosocial or community-based treatment still had the disorder.
For social skills, however, combined treatment was best.
- Stephen Hinshaw of UC Berkeley said many
questions remain. The children were followed for 14 months, but what happens
years down the road? What treatments work best for children with other
disorders -- for example, children with anxiety disorders seemed to do
best with combination therapy. And why didn't medication improve academic
- The study's detailed and final results
were expected to be published over the next couple of years.