By Joe Lepper Monday, 06 June 2011
Educational psychologists have criticised the use of psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin to treat children with behavioural disorders including ADHD.
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The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) has said there is "insufficient knowledge" about the effect of such drugs on children, in particular their brain development.
It said that further research is urgently needed and is calling on the government to carry out a review into the use of these drugs on school-aged children.
The AEP also fears that new broader diagnostic criteria for mental health, which are due to be introduced in 2013, will make it easier for health professionals to prescribe psychotropic drugs to children.
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 should 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."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "When diagnosing and treating children for ADHD, clinicians should follow guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
"Putting together the right treatment plan is the responsibility of a number of clinical experts, working as a multidisciplinary team with the individual concerned and their family."