The authors review research on the effects of amphetamines on children, particularly hyperactive children in the classroom. They point out that there is no clear evidence these drugs should be prescribed as often as they are. The "hyperkinetic syndrome" remains vague both in its diagnosis and its etiology, and the mechanism of amphetamine action is unclear. The assumption that amphetamines have a paradoxical,calming effect on hyperactive children, unlike the stimulating effect they exert on adults, may accurately describe the apparent effects of the drugs on attention and other aspects of socially accepted classroom behavior, but it does not justify the interpretation that amphetamine effects are qualitatively different for children than for adults, without the same potential for harm. The authors conclude that the possible adverse effects of these drugs and their unknown long-term risks require that we consider the present policy of amphetamine administration in the schools.

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