Pills for Scottish kids aged 5 in ADHD ‘epidemic’

Conservative young people's spokeswoman Liz Smith

Conservative young people's spokeswoman Liz Smith

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THE number of Scots children on medication for the behavioural disorder ADHD has soared.

Almost 10,000 people were given drugs to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) last year, many aged between five and 14. This is up 9.9% on 2013/14 and a 46.2% rise since 2009/10.

The total number of ADHD prescription items dispensed also rose by 6.9% between 2013/14 and 2014/15 to 105,562. It has more than doubled in the past ten years.

Opposition parties are now raising questions about new laws which have loosened the definition of these conditions.

Conservative young people’s spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “It is imperative that we understand exactly why this astonishing rise has occurred and, just as importantly, whether the correct diagnosis is being made.

“The Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act 2009 redefined the definition of special needs.

“This legislation was based on good intentions in terms of helping our most vulnerable children but, at the time, serious concerns were raised about whether the definition had become too wide and whether some children were being defined with support needs when, in fact, they did not have them.

“The extent of the rise in these statistics suggests these concerns might have some truth.”

The majority of those diagnosed with ADHD are male, with youngsters in the most deprived areas around three times more likely to be diagnosed than their wealthier contemporaries, the figures show.

NHS Borders has the highest rate of people being treated for the condition, followed by Fife and Tayside.

The cost of prescribing the medication has also increased, costing £1.5 million 10 years ago and £5.3 million now.

Ms Smith said the figures pose “serious difficulties” for public services.

“We also have to ask if our schools can cope with this worrying trend, and if teachers have adequate training and support to deal with the very challenging issues these conditions present,” she said.

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