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Side Effects of Ritalin on Children: Should We Be Giving Our Children Chill Pills?

By — One of many ADD / ADHD blogs on

Ritalin is a highly controversial little pill, especially when it comes to using it to treat children. Yellow or white, 5mg, 10mg, or 20 mg, Ritalin is prescribed for ADHD in children as young as 3. Is this popular chill pill really in our kids' best interest? Concerned parents and medical professionals are beginning to wonder.

Why Is Ritalin So Attractive?

Ritalin is largely attractive because of how quickly it begins working. Within 30 minutes of the child ingesting it, the drug has begun working, and the results can be seen almost immediately. The effects last four hours; even though school can last more than six, most children can get by on only one dose, given in the morning. This is likely because the good feelings the child experiences from controlled behavior are enough to sustain him well into the afternoon. However, a second dose can still be given, if needed.

What Are the Side Effects of Low-Dose Ritalin?

Research has uncovered some long- and short-term unwanted side effects of Ritalin. Just like any other pill medication, Ritalin can cause unpleasant stomach discomfort. This is no cause for discontinuation of the drug, however. Low doses of Ritalin have been found to decrease heart rate and increase blood pressure, but these changes appear to be insignificant in both the short- and long-term. Other side effects of low-dose Ritalin include:

What Are the Side Effects of Higher Doses of Ritalin?

Doses of more than 20g of Ritalin in children can cause side effects including:

Teenagers and adults report the same symptoms, but also add that they experience euphoric feelings when they take higher doses. Of course, this makes the drug eligible for abuse. Typically, doses of Ritalin does not produce tolerance, addiction, or withdrawal. However, for those who abuse Ritalin these processes can occur.

For Your Information

Studies also point to the possibility that, although rare, Ritalin can uncover the presence of involuntary tics or even Tourette's syndrome. Since the 1980s when this research was published, the link has proven largely inconsistent.

It's now believed that Ritalin can be used for some children with Tourette's. Additionally, Ritalin is not linked to the development of any serious diseases, except for one notable exception. An FDA study in 1996 found an increased of liver cancer in these rats treated with Ritalin. However, the FDA assures the public that Ritalin does not cause cancer in humans, and that liver cancer is common in rats. There have been no reports that found increased risk of liver cancer in humans who take Ritalin.

Should We Give Kids Chill Pills?

The study above is important because it demonstrates that all the possible risks of Ritalin are still unknown. It is important for parents to be aware of what they are giving their children.


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