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Study: Ritalin Use More Prevalent In Urban Areas Than Rural Areas

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RALEIGH — The drug Ritalin has caused controversy for years. However, a new study shows where you live may play a role in how doctors prescribe it.

The study shows kids who live in and around cities usually get Ritalin and other similar drugs more often than kids who live in rural areas. For example, as many as five percent of children in the Triangle take Ritalin. Outside the Triangle, the number drops to about 2 1/2 percent.

Martina Young was concerned when her doctor suggested a drug to help control her daughter's Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

"In the classroom, she had a difficult time sitting and really being able to stay on task and focusing on that," she says.

The Youngs' pediatrician, Michael Smith, says more children are on medication because parents are becoming more educated about ways to help their kids. Smith says about 80 percent of children who have ADD and hyperactivity can benefit from medication like Ritalin.

"It provides the communication between nerve endings and the brain that help children stay focused, concentrate, finish their work and feel more successful about school," Smith says.

Raleigh pharmacist Mike James says the need for drugs like Ritalin has been steady over the past few years.

"What you find is that they really realize this begins to work for them, so they're doing it on an ongoing basis because it solves their problem for them," he says.

The Youngs' daughter has dramtically improved in several school subjects including reading. Doctors say children need to be constantly monitored on this type of medication. The No. 1 side-effect of these drugs is loss of appetite which can lead to growth problems.

Photographer:Lynn French


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