Tuesday, February 23, 1999 Published at 08:55 GMT
Drug to control children's behaviour 'overused'
The causes of hyperactivity are thought to be biological
The number of hyperactive children being given a drug to control their behaviour has shot up at an alarming rate, according to a United Nations report.
The report criticises overuse of the drug in America.
Treatment rates for hyperactivity in some American schools are as high as 30 to 40 per cent of a class and children as young as one year old have been known to have been given the drug.
Supporters say it is important for parents to control their child's behaviour if they are disruptive.
The 70-page INCB report lists drug problems worldwide, and makes recommendations on strategies for fighting abuse in regions from Asia to Europe and Africa to the Americas.
The UN wants governments in the countries where use is increasing to monitor whether it is being overdiagnosed.
Professor Hamid Ghodse is president of the INCB.
He says they are taking drugs to conform with a generally desired body image, because of emotional stress, and to improve school performance.
However, they then find it difficult to refrain from abusing drugs at a later date, he adds.