Psychologists have called for an urgent review of drugs for hyperactive children amid concerns they are being used as a “quick fix”.
There is a lack of knowledge about the effect of powerful psychotropic drugs on children’s development, according to the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP). They are used to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) .
The AEP says more research is needed and wants the Government to re-examine the use of the drugs.
Their call came as a Channel 4 News investigation found that children under six years of age are being “chemically coshed” with drugs after being diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD.
The investigation, due to be aired last night, found a massive increase in the amount of ADHD drugs being prescribed in the UK.
Five years ago, it claims, 389,000 prescriptions were issued, but by last year that figure had nearly doubled.
The investigation also claims that drugs are increasingly being prescribed to children aged under six – against manufacturers’ guidelines, and those issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
AEP general secretary Kate Fallon said: “There is a danger that we rely on the ‘quick fix’ for children with conditions such as ADHD, which frequently means the prescription of medication such as Ritalin instead of a number of other possible interventions. These are very powerful drugs that should not be prescribed lightly and really be a last resort. We need a collaborative approach to the treatment of these conditions, which includes further research into the effect of prescribing such potent medications to such young children.”
An AEP statement said the Association considers that a national review of psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, for school-aged children is urgently needed.
It adds: “The AEP has significant concerns that the neurological impact of psychotropic drugs on the developing brains of children has not been fully researched.
“The potential damage that such drugs could cause needs further investigation.”