Drugs such as ritalin which are given to children with attention deficit disorders to improve concentration have little or no effect on actual performance and exam results, according to neurologists at Amsterdam’s VU University.
The report, published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, is based on an analysis of 37 years of research into ADHD and medication.
The researchers found that while 70% of children with ADHD benefit from medication to boost concentration, methylphenidate – the active component in drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta – improves accuracy in arithmetic by 3% and has no impact on reading skills.
Children may complete more assignments but this does not translate into better marks or test results.
Clinical neurologist Anne Fleur Kortekaas-Rijlaarsdam said that mild cases of ADHD should be treated using psycho-sociological means before opting for drugs.
‘Our results show that doctors should be more reticent to prescribe medicines if they see that the primary concern is to improve school performance,’ she said.
Prescriptions for Ritalin had quadrupled in recent years, according to the Dutch health council, and in 2015, it emerged 4.5% of Dutch children are prescribed the drug.
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