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CHECK UP
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Thursday 15:00-15:30
Check Up is your chance to talk to doctors about the health issues that most concern you and your family. Each week Barbara Myers is joined by a medical expert to take your calls and emails on a particular topic and give you the most up to date advice. No appointment necessary.
Call 0870 010 0444
checkup@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Audio currently unavailable for 27 November
PRESENTER
BARBARA MYERS
Barbara Myers
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 27 November 2003
boys

ADHD

Britain is in the grip of an epidemic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD – at least that what the latest statistics suggest.

Children
At least one in 20 schoolchildren - 360,000 in England and Wales alone - are thought to have some degree of ADHD.  Prescriptions for the standard treatment, a drug called Ritalin, have doubled in the last four years – a trend that could see as many as one in seven British children taking the drug within the next four years. In the United States, that figure is thought to be nearly one in five.

First Behavioural Symptoms
The first behavioural symptoms of ADHD are often found in early childhood, between the ages of 5 and 9, when most children are diagnosed. The condition continues throughout the school years and it is thought that 60% of children will carry some symptoms through to adulthood.

Genetics
It’s also thought that the condition can either be attributed to an hereditary or genetic cause or to damage to the foetus' brain during pregnancy or to the child's brain at or after birth.

Other Symptoms
ADHD is characterised by many behaviours such as inattention, impulsiveness, tantrums, over-activity and restlessness, social clumsiness and poor co-ordination, mood swings and in some cases, specific learning difficulties. But equally these are the sorts of behaviours often exhibited by most children at some stage, to stronger or lesser degrees. So what do doctors base their diagnosis on and is over-diagnosis a problem?

Ritalin
Ritalin, the brand name of the most widely prescribed medication for ADHD, is a brain stimulant. Whilst this may see odd – that an already hyper child can be calmed down with a drug that increases activity in the nervous system - in kids with ADHD, the drug works by increasing alertness which helps the child to focus, reducing fidgeting and hyperactivity. However, some parents report that the medication completely shuts down their child, turning them into an “emotional zombie”. So how does Ritalin and drugs like it work and are there any alternatives?

Contact us
After this week's edition of Case Notes which examined ADHD, Check Up is your opportunity to ask an expert about the condition. If you have a question, contact us by calling 0870 010 0400 from 1.30pm on the day of broadcast or emailing checkup@bbc.co.uk 

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