Too Many Drugs for Healthy Kids
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – It seems as though medications meant to boost people’s attention spans are being prescribed to children more while young adults are taking them to help with studying. Now the American Academy of Neurology states in a recent position paper that the increase in prescribing these medications to youths who don’t necessarily need them is a problem.
The drugs discussed in the paper, called neuroenhancements, can help improve things like cognitive function, memory, and thinking abilities for individuals with issues such as ADHD.
However, it has become common for parents to ask doctors to prescribe these medications for their children so they can perform better in school even though the child does not seem to have a disorder. Another trend is teenagers taking neuroenhancements so they can do well on a test.
According to the paper, problems that could arise from prescribing neuroenhancements to healthy youths include the risk of over medication and dependency, possible long-term health and safety risks, as well as ethical issues related to doctors prescribing drugs to healthy patients.
"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,” one of the paper’s authors William Graf, M.D., of Yale University, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology was quoted as saying.
The paper goes on to say that children and adolescents view the use of these medications differently than adults because their decision making skills are not fully developed, so parents and doctors should be the ones guiding them in the right direction.
For healthy children with problems in school performance or who can’t seem to stay focused, putting them on neuroenhancements is not the only solution.
“There are alternatives to neuroenhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits and exercise regimens," Graf concludes.
Source: Neurology, March 2013