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Yale docs: 'just say no' to brain-boosting drugs for healthy kids

If you wouldn't prescribe steroids or human growth hormone to improve healthy kids' athletic performance, don't give them brain drugs to boost their grades.

That's the upshot of a position paper from the American Academy of Neurology, coauthored by two Yale professors of pediatrics and neurology. The paper, published in the academy's journal, Neurology, warns doctors that it is "not justifiable" to give "neuroenhancing" drugs—those typically prescribed to children with ADHD or other neurological disorders—to kids without such a diagnosis.

"This growing trend, in which teens use 'study drugs' before tests and parents request ADHD drugs for kids who don’t meet the criteria for the disorder, has made headlines recently in the United States," the academy says in a press release. Led by William Graf of the Yale School of Medicine, the organization "spent the past several years analyzing all of the available research and ethical issues to develop this official position paper."

The simple conclusion: don't do it.

“Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication,” Graf says in the press release. “The practice of prescribing these drugs [. . .] for healthy students is not justifiable.”

Coauthors include Yale's clinical director of pediatric neurology, Geoffrey Miller.

Filed under ADHD, School of Medicine, neurology
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