Updated 17 July 2017

Ritalin - long-term damage?

The attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin may trigger long-term changes in the brains of young children, researchers say.

The attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin may trigger long-term changes in the brains of young children, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City say.

The scientists, studying the brains of young rats, found changes in the brain areas that control higher executive functioning, addiction and appetite, social relationships, and stress. They noted that these changes gradually disappeared as the rats were taken off the drug.

Doctors must be careful in diagnosing ADHD and prescribing Ritalin, the researchers said, because the brain changes - while potentially helpful to children with the disorder - could cause harm to children with healthy brains.

Doses given to the rats were on the high end of what a child might be prescribed, the scientists said. They also said the rats were injected with the drug instead of getting it orally, since this allowed the rodents to metabolise the drug in a way that more closely mimicked the process in humans.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
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July 2007


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Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation ( She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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