Ritalin - long-term damage?

The attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin may trigger long-term changes in the brains of young children, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City say.

The scientists, studying the brains of young rats, found changes in the brain areas that control higher executive functioning, addiction and appetite, social relationships, and stress. They noted that these changes gradually disappeared as the rats were taken off the drug.

Doctors must be careful in diagnosing ADHD and prescribing Ritalin, the researchers said, because the brain changes - while potentially helpful to children with the disorder - could cause harm to children with healthy brains.

Doses given to the rats were on the high end of what a child might be prescribed, the scientists said. They also said the rats were injected with the drug instead of getting it orally, since this allowed the rodents to metabolise the drug in a way that more closely mimicked the process in humans.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. – (HealthDayNews)

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July 2007

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