Parents using Ritalin to get children through exams and divorce

Reports in the Chinese media say some parents are prepared to dose their offspring with powerful drugs to help them through exams.

The anxious parents live in Shanghai and are after the drug Ritalin because they believe the prescription stimulant will improve their children's exam results.

Ritalin is used to treat the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the active ingredient is methylphenidate hydrochloride.

Parents whose children are on Ritalin for medical reasons are said to be facing demands from other parents for some of the amphetamine-like stimulant which is only available from doctors.

Parents and grandparents are apparently as anxious as the youngsters about the highly competitive exam process and buy a range of products and drugs promoted on TV or recommended by others.

Medical experts have expressed their concern that healthy children are taking Ritalin and last month authorities warned parents to stop buying a protein injection which supposedly boosts the immune systems of children facing entrance exams.

Ritalin is in the news in the U.S. too where a new study has found that children whose parents divorce are almost twice as likely to be prescribed attention deficit drugs than children whose parents remain together

The study involved more than 4,700 children and commenced in 1994, when all the families were still fully intact.

Families were tracked to see what would happen to them and what drugs would be prescribed to the children.

According to professor Lisa Strohschein from the University of Alberta, more than 6% of 633 children of divorced families were prescribed Ritalin compared to 3.3% of children whose parents were still together.

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