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科學家擔憂ADHD藥物有長期副作用 Scientists concerned over long term effects of ADHD medication

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a growing problem in children and teenagers in western countries. The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggests that it affects 5% of the school-aged population - the majority being male. Children with ADHD can experience a range of behavioural and learning problems but most experience inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, to a greater or lesser degree. Doctors, perhaps keen for a 'quick fix', often resort to treatment in the form of prescription stimulant medications such as Ritalin. Based on an amphetamine-like drug called methylphenidate, it works by dampening part of the brain called the limbic system, which causes hyperactivity. Also able to enhance the child's ability to focus for longer periods of time, Ritalin helps to improve children's organisational problems, poor self-control and lack of attention.

There is, however, much controversy surrounding the reported side effects of such prescription drugs, particularly concerns over the possible adverse consequences on the sensitive developing brain. Approved initially for children over six years of age, more and more prescriptions are being administered for children as young as two. A study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that the use of stimulants in children between two and four years old had doubled, and in some cases tripled, between 1991 and 1995 in the US - a phenomenon that is troubling many child health and development professionals.

Some of the side effects are even more alarming; insomnia, loss of appetite, vomiting, palpitations, raised blood pressure, paranoia, psychotic episodes, depression on withdrawal and even drug dependence are just a few of those reported. Ritalin has even been linked to the deaths of a small number of children in the UK and USA, as a result of small vessel damage in the heart. A recent documentary on Panorama revealed the results of a major research project carried out by the US-based National Institutes of Health. The project, called the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD, claims that ADHD drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta are of no benefit to hyperactive children and confirmed that these stimulant drugs can even be bad for their physical development. After studying the effects of taking Ritalin and other similar ADHD drugs in 600 children for three years, they found that any short-term benefits had disappeared, and that taking these drugs long term can result in stunted growth.

The totality of these findings brings into question the fact that the NHS is spending £1 million each month on giving Ritalin to children with ADHD. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that doctors around the UK are writing around 7,500 prescriptions for Ritalin at a cost of £12.48m per year. Around 30,000 children in this country are thought to be taking Ritalin and similar drugs.

With family relationships often being put under a great deal of stress, it is easy to see why so many children end up on Ritalin with little objection from their parents. We think it?s fairly safe to assume that most parents would prefer a natural, less invasive, solution to their child's behavioural problems as opposed to one that involves the use of a stimulant similar in effect to the class A drug, Cocaine. There is, reassuringly, a rapidly growing body of evidence which suggests diet plays a significant part in ADHD. Omega-3 fatty acids (most commonly derived from fish oil) have become relatively scarce in many modern diets but they are fundamental to healthy brain development and function. Results from controlled trials indicate that supplementation with omega-3 - particularly EPA - can be helpful in the management of ADHD by improving children's concentration and behaviour.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are crucial for maintaining the correct structure of every cell membrane in the body, and are crucial for efficient cell messaging in the brain. Without enough fatty acids, communication between our cells ceases to operate properly; in the case of the dopamine pathway (the neurotransmitter implicated in ADHD, and the basis for which Ritalin has been formulated) this could affect functions such as attention and concentration - both fundamental factors in ADHD. By restoring the levels of fatty acids in the brain, cells are able to communicate properly, and neurotransmitters resume healthy levels. Of the omega-3 fatty acids, there is strong evidence to suggest that it is EPA, not DHA, which is most beneficial for these purposes.

There is substantial supporting evidence which suggests that deficiencies of certain highly unsaturated fatty acids (particularly) are associated with childhood ADHD. Several findings indicate that physical symptoms (including excessive thirst, frequent urination, rough, dry or scaly skin, dry hair, dandruff, and soft or brittle nails) behavioural problems (including conduct disorder, hyperactivity-impulsivity, anxiety, temper tantrums, and sleep problems) and learning disorders are linked with low fatty acid levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very safe and have many other health benefits, including improving the cardiovascular system, stabilising mood and nourishing the joints. There is good evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids should be seen as complementary to other methods of management for conditions such as ADHD.

Omega product is a patented and highly concentrated formulation of ultra-pure EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from marine fish oil and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) from organic virgin evening primrose oil, providing a highly concentrated source of omega-3 & omega-6 long-chain fatty acids and botanical triterpenes. This unique combination of natural fatty acids provides cell membranes with the nutrients required for efficient chemical signalling, integral to healthy brain function. Just two capsules daily provide 560 mg EPA and 200 mg organic EPO, and help to reverse fatty acid deficiencies by nourishing the brain's phospholipids. An increasing number of doctors and nutrition experts are using omega product to treat the symptoms of ADHD and other behavioural and emotional problems in both children and adults.

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