Rise in youth hyperactivity prescriptions
The number of prescriptions for drugs to treat hyperactivity in children is on the rise, figures suggested today.
Data obtained by the Conservatives found more than 420,000 prescriptions were written for under-16s in 2007 - up 33 per cent on 2005 figures.
More than 40,000 prescriptions were also written for 16 to 18 year-olds, up 51 per cent since 2005.
In 2007, the NHS spent more than £17 million on the drugs.
The number of prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-psychotics is also on the rise, the data suggested.
More than 113,000 prescriptions of anti-depressants were issued to children under 16 in 2007 and nearly 108,000 to 16 to 18-year-olds.
The figure for teenagers aged 16 to 18 has not changed since 2005 but is up 6 per cent among those under 16.
More than 86,000 prescriptions of anti-psychotics were issued to children under 18 in 2007.
The number given to 16 to 18-year-olds is up 7 per cent since 2005 up 11 per cent among under-16s.
Shadow health minister, Anne Milton, said: "We already know that our children suffer the lowest levels of well-being in Europe.
"This data shows that, increasingly, health professionals are prescribing drugs to treat child mental health problems, when evidence suggests that talking therapies can have an equal, if not better effect.
"These drugs have significant risks when given to children and young people, making this rise extremely concerning."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Nice (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidance is clear that antidepressants should rarely be prescribed to children and young people and only as part of a treatment regime, stressing that other treatment options should be considered first.
"Treatment with prescribed drugs should only be started after a specialist in ADHD has thoroughly assessed the child or adolescent and confirmed the diagnosis.
"Once treatment has been started it should be monitored by a GP.
"Drug therapy should be one part of a comprehensive treatment programme that includes advice and support to parents and teachers."
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