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Health Agencies Update
April 17, 2002

More Children on CNS Drugs

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JAMA. 2002;287(15):1930. doi:10.1001/jama.287.15.1930-JHA20004-2-1

The proportion of children and adolescents receiving psychotropic medicines increased substantially between 1995 and 1999, according to a study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Drugs to mitigate attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remained the most commonly prescribed, while antidepressant prescriptions increased at an ever-quickening pace (Ambul Pediatr. 2002;2:111-119).

At the conclusion of the study, 3% of individuals under age 20 years were receiving drugs for ADHD, up from 2.4% in 1995. Boys were three times more likely than girls to receive such medicines. However, the popularity of methylphenidate (Ritalin) dropped from 80% of ADHD prescriptions in 1995 to 56% in 1999, while dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall) became relatively more popular. Pediatricians wrote half of all first prescriptions for ADHD medicines, with family practitioners accounting for another 20%.

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