Study shows thousands of US toddlers medicated for ADHD - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Study shows thousands of US toddlers medicated for ADHD

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BOSTON (WHDH) - There are new concerns about how doctors are treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in young children. An alarming about of toddlers are being given drugs, like Ritalin and Adderall.

The Centers for Disease Control says they're too young to take those types of drugs and that the medication could have long-lasting and damaging side effects.

The CDC says thousands of "active" toddlers are being diagnosed as hyperactive, with ADHD, and given medications usually prescribed to older children.

"I don't get how you diagnose somebody. I mean, if they're hyper or all over the place then you probably have a two-year-old," said one parent.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Practice guidelines don't even address ADHD diagnoses in children under four. However, the data shows thousands of children are being given medications doctors say can stunt growth, cause insomnia and loss of appetite.

"We're giving Adderall to two-year-olds? I mean, that's nuts! There's no evidence that works. There's no evidence that it's safe. These are desperate measures," said Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a behavioral pediatrician.

The CDC estimated that by 2011, more than one-in-ten American children between four and 17-years-old had been diagnosed with ADHD.

"We are four-percent of the world's population and we use 70% of the world's Adderall and Ritalin. That says something right there," said Dr. Diller.

Some doctors say medications could be a last resort when toddlers might harm themselves, but for others, two-years-old is simply too young.

The CDC also says more than ten-thousand children under the age of four are being given ADHD drugs and that more studies need to be done to determine the effect on those children.
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