The delay has left some parents and doctors unsure of whether ADHD drugs are the right move for their children.
While one mother in Scotland said Ritalin had been indispensable in calming her son, another said her child became incredibly aggressive and hard to manage while on Ritalin, injuring his brother by throwing him through a glass door.
"I think in 10 years time we will say that ADHD was too simple an explanation for many children," said Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, head of Educational Studies at the Edinburgh University, adding that many doctors label children as having ADHD and prescribe them the amphetamine Ritalin without investigating other possibilities. "We will ask ourselves what we were thinking giving these children amphetamines," she said.
Dr. Dave Coghill, senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at Dundee University, disagreed, saying Ritalin was an effective drug. "By inhibiting impulsive behavior in children with ADHD it allows them to socialize and develop normally," he said. "Despite the risks, the medication can work for some children."
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is usually diagnosed when children show signs of inattention, hyperactivity and an inability to start and foster social relationships. For many children, the alternative isn't better, as the side effects of ADHD drugs such as Ritalin can include loss of appetite, sleeping problems and death.
The FDA assigned Ritalin its most serious safety warning -- the "black box" warning -- last month after 25 deaths were linked to cardiac problems caused by the drug. Seven U.K. children are also thought to have died due to Ritalin side effects.
"Why is it conventional medicine, and even some parents, are so willing to rely on drugs to control children's behavior?" Asked consumer advocate Mike Adams, who has written extensively on ADHD at NaturalNews.com, and interviewed experts in the field such as Dr. Fred Baughman. "If colorful cereals made from processed sugar and refined grains didn't pass for a 'complete breakfast,' and soft drinks and fruitless 'fruit drinks' weren't standard lunchtime fare, we'd notice a marked improvement in the behavior and learning ability of our school-aged children.
"Ritalin is handed out like candy simply because the drug companies know it is a huge revenue producer, and school administrators support the practice because medicating students makes them more sedate," he added.