|Behavioural disorders are overdiagnosed in US|
|Saturday, 16 March 1996 00:00|
"American children are probably being over diagnosed as having a behavioral disorder and being overprescribed drugs to treat it, says a report by the United Nations' International Narcotics Board. The agency, based in Vienna, was asked by the US Drug Enforcement Administration to look into the diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit disorder. The agencies are concerned with the rapid growth in prescriptions for methylphenidate, and amphetamine marketed in the US as Ritalin. In 1990 worldwide production was less than 3 tonnes, but by 1994 more than 8.5 tonnes were being prescribed. About 90% of these prescriptions were to American children, adolescents, and adults."
"Since 1990 the number of people diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder in America has risen from 900,000 to more than two million last year, the report said. The UN estimates that 10-12% of all American boys aged between 6 and 14 years are using the drug. The disorder is diagnosed four times more often in boys. Some mental health experts are concerned that the disorder has been too uncritically embraced by frustrated parents and overburdened public school administrators who have turned to Ritalin for the quick fix that it seems to provide. The UN report notes that attention deficit disorder resembles many other problems, including resembles many other problems, including anxiety, depression, visual or hearing difficulties, traditional learning disabilities, and family dysfunction."
"The disorder is usually brought to parents' attention by schoolteachers, often on the basis of poor behavior in school. Ritalin is usually prescribed by pediatricians, and there is evidence that the disorder may not be diagnosed and treated properly in some children. Researchers in 1994 at the University of California-Riverside surveyed 380 pediatricians and found that 50% of the children in whom they diagnosed attention deficit disorder did not undergo psychological or educational testing before Ritalin and other drugs were prescribed."
"Behavioural disorders are overdiagnosed in US", BMJ (British Medical Journal), March 16, 1996, Vol. 312, Num. 0, pp. 657