Prescriptions for ‘chemical cosh’ drugs to treat hyperactivity have soared four-fold in a decade amid evidence that children as young as three are taking the medication.
The number of prescriptions for Ritalin leapt from 158,000 in 1999 to 661,463 in 2010, NHS figures have revealed.
Psychologists said they were seeing a sharp rise in the number of children below the age of six, and some as young as three, being prescribed the drug.
They also warned dosages were getting stronger, with children increasingly given a powerful ‘kickstart’ dose in the mornings.
Ritalin – whose generic name is methylphenidate hydrochloride – can cause nausea, fatigue and mood swings and has also been linked to suicides.