The Atlanta Journal Constitution
December 5, 2006

The controversy over using medications to tame easily distracted and hyperactive schoolchildren hasn’t stopped millions of parents from asking doctors to prescribe the powerful stimulants for their children. The benefits of the medication — better school performance and a calmer child — outweigh the risks, many parents believe.

However, the most recent trend of prescribing Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and other controlled medications for preschoolers ought to alarm federal regulators, especially now that some studies are suggesting low doses of the drugs could be helpful in very young children with moderate to severe forms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Such “off-label” use of stimulants for children younger than age 6 is prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration. Yet a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000 estimated at least 200,000 preschoolers were getting prescriptions for the drugs. Most experts believe the number has since doubled.

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