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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Age for Medication



How old does a child have to be to start taking medication?


By "medication" I am assuming you mean stimulants. There is no set age for beginning stimulants. The youngest person I have seen on stimulants (Ritalin) was four. I have spoken with a colleague about a three year old child on stimulants. However, it is highly unusual to use stimulants at that age. Essentially, we have so little data about the effects of stimulants in children under six years old that only children with extremely dysfunctional problems would be considered, even by those of us doing a lot of work with ADD. As with much of pharmacology, it comes down to weighing short and long term risks versus benefits.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati