Normal medical practice is to not even evaluate children for ADHD until they are at least 4 years old, yet thousands of toddlers - generally from low-income families - are being prescribed medicines they don't need, and which could prove harmf

More than 10,000 children aged 2 to 3 years old have been prescribed ADHD medicines such as Ritalin and Adderall, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data was presented last Friday at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, reported The New York Times. The presentation spurred an outcry from many health practitioners. "We're giving Adderall to 2-year-olds? I mean, that's nuts," Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a behavioral pediatrician, told Today on Monday. "It's absolutely shocking, and it shouldn't be happening," Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children's mental health consultant to the Carter Center, told the Times. "People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don't have our act together for little children." In examining the data provided from Medicaid offices in Georgia and private insurance claims from the research firm MarketScan, the CDC found that the majority of toddlers receiving prescriptions were from low-income families. KJ Dell'Antonia wrote in a blog for The New York Times: "Families that can afford alternatives to medicating toddlers have access to those alternatives in far greater numbers than families that cannot." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends evaluating a child for ADHD no younger than 4, and at that age focusing mainly on behavior therapy administered by a parent or teacher. While drugs like Ritalin and Adderall have proved beneficial for older children who struggle with attention deficit disorders, there is almost no information about how well the drugs on 2 or 3 year olds, making the administration of the drugs extremely dangerous, at the very least. "Because the behaviors that typify ADHD are common and normal in toddlers, thus contraindicating treating them with medication, there is little study on the effects of treatment at this age," wrote Russell Saunders, a pediatrician and contributer to the Daily Beast. He details the harmful side effects of ADHD drugs, including sleep interference and diminished appetities, which can stunt a toddler's physical development. ADHD is difficult to diagnose, especially since many of the symptoms are behaviors that toddlers naturally exhibit, and non-medical cures often require a large time committment. "Medication for some toddlers can seem like a cheap and fast fix, and one that parents who are probably already struggling may welcome," Dell'Antonia wrote. Experts agree that, for young children, medication should be the last option. "Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems," Dr. Greenberg, a behavioral pediatrician in Savannah, Georgia, told the Times. "But you also have overwhelmed parents who can't cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse."%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//