Do 2.5 Million Children Really Need Ritalin?

ADHD is often grossly and carelessly overdiagnosed. All too often a teacher complaint and a 10-minute talk with a pediatrician results in an ill-considered diagnosis and prescription.

The incidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly called ADHD or ADD, has exploded — a relatively uncommon syndrome has become a household word. Three to seven percent of the children in the United States, over 4 million of them, are being diagnosed with this “disease,” and 2.5 million are being treated with Ritalin or some other long-term medication. This is a 1,600 percent increase since the 1970s! It sometimes seems that every time we turn around, another child has been diagnosed with ADHD and placed on pharmaceutical medication, which the child is expected to take throughout childhood and even for life. Worse yet, there is very little solid research concerning the long-term benefits or side effects of these medicines.

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