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Watch Those Kids' Meds

-- With pre-school use of medications such as Ritalin and Prozac soaring, Hillary Rodham Clinton urged parents to get the facts and use caution on Monday at a White House gathering of health and education experts that she convened. Tuesday's edition of The Early Show, featured more discussion on this ongoing debate.

Certainly, the use of Ritalin to treat children for Attention Deficit Disorder has been a hotly contested argument for the last decade. But just what is ADD, ADHD, Ritalin and Natural Alternatives. The Early Show presents a glossary of terms for parents trying to wrestle with these issues.

1) What is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

According to ADDitude, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to those diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, these are neurological conditions characterized by three primary symptoms:

  • Decreased ability to pay attention and control focus on activities.

  • Difficulty controlling one's impulses; and frequently.

  • Increased motor activity.

2) What is Ritalin?

According to the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association, Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a medically prescribed stimulant medication. The therapeutic use of methylphenidate does not cause addiction or dependence, and does not lead to psychosis.

3) Are there side effects?

Sometimes. Some Ritalin patients have reported some of the following adverse reactions:

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Heart Palpitations

  • Headache

  • Drowsiness

  • Blood pressure and pulse changes, both up and down

  • Tachycardia (racing heart)

  • Angina and/or Cardiac Arrhythmia

  • Abdominal Pain

  • Weight loss

4) Is Ritalin the "answer" to treat ADD/ADHD?

The National Institute of Mental Health's Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA), released a study in December of 1999 which stated medication alone, or medication in combination with intensive behavioral therapy, are significantly superior to other types of treatment. Medication is not limited to Ritalin.

Some critics argue that ADD/ADHD can be curbed by changing diet. Rachel Bell, Nina Anderson and Doris Rapp have teamed up to author The A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. Diet! : A Comprehensive Look at Contributing Factors and Natural Treatments for Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity.

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