ADHD Drug Prescriptions for Children on the Rise, FDA Says

Prescriptions for drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children rose 46 percent from 2002 to 2010, a new study from the Food and Drug Administration says.

During the same period, diagnoses for childhood ADHD increased from 4.4 million to 5 million, ABC News reported June 18. Those figures add fuel to the criticism that children are being overdiagnosed with the disorder.

“It’s not a slam-dunk diagnosis,” says study co-author Martin Stein, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.

Several studies have shown alternative therapies like improving children’s diets may be more important for treating ADHD than drugs.

There were also several positive changes in drug prescription trends, the report shows: adolescent contraceptive use was up 93 percent during the study period and antibiotic use decreased 14 percent, the latter spurred by an aggressive campaign by the American Academy of Pediatrics for doctors to stop overprescribing antibiotics to stem the development of antibiotic-resistant germs.

The study appears online in the journal Pediatrics (PDF).