Do 4.2 Million Children Really Need Ritalin?

8232In 2011, Dr. Sanford Newmark posed an important question: Do 2.5 million children really need Ritalin?

Nearly 3 years later, the number of children taking Ritalin has risen to 4.2 million.

Dr. Newmark, head of the Pediatric Integrative Neurodevelopmental Program at UCSF, specializes in the integrative and holistic treatment of children with autism and ADHD. While drugs such as Ritalin definitely serve a vital role in helping some children, he suggests that misdiagnoses, not allowing for normal variations in a child’s learning styles and abilities, and a growing “pill culture” may be causing doctors to over prescribe.

Instead, Dr. Newmark prefers an integrative approach that looks at the whole child in terms of friends, family, community, and school. In many cases, changes in diet, environment, and parental skills can have a significant positive impact on a child’s behavior – without the use of drugs.

“When we do make a diagnosis, it makes sense to explore non-pharmaceutical options before moving to psychostimulants. We have to be careful not to over diagnose ADHD and allow for many normal variations of learning styles and abilities.”

Watch Dr. Newmark in this UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine presentation:

Do 4.2 Million Children Really Need Ritalin? An Integrative Approach to ADHD, 2014 Update