Israel: Too Many Kids on Ritalin – Many Shouldn’t Be


According to Israeli Maccabi Kupat Cholim (HMO) pediatrician Dr. Shlomi Antebi, one in five Israeli children are taking Ritalin or Concerta for attention disorders while a secondary condition is undetected and therefore, their true condition is not being treated.

The study monitored 520 children ages 6 to 18 in the central Israel from May 2006 to May 2008. All of the children were receiving medication for attention disorders. The study documented that 70% were diagnosed with ADHD but this was untreated. The coexisting conditions included oppositional defiant disorder (40 percent), mood disorders including depression and behavioral problems (18 percent each), and anxiety and learning disabilities (28 percent each).

25 percent of the patients over 13 admitted to using alcohol and tobacco.

The study concluded that 13.5% of the children should not be on Ritalin or Concerta. In 8% of these cases, the drug therapy was unsuccessful.

Dr. Antebi explains that many doctors are simply unqualified to make the call regarding Ritalin, explaining a diagnoses may only be made by a medical professional who deals with such cases fulltime, not “moonlighting” as he put it.

In accordance with Health Ministry regulations, only neurologists and psychiatrists are supposed to prescribe Ritalin but pediatricians who have certified may as well, but their additional training will usually not include addressing ADHD.

The study, released at a meeting of the Israel Society of Clinical Pediatrics, questions the widespread use of the Test of Variables of Attention for diagnosing attention disorders in children. The computerized test, often abbreviated as TOVA, seeks to measure a patient’s sustained and selective attention to determine whether he or she suffers from an attention disorder.

Dr. Antebi warns that prescribing either drug, Ritalin or Concerta to children who should not be taking the medication may not only prove unsuccessful, but the drug may also exacerbate unwanted side effects. He warns that Ritalin is also tied to stunted growth in patients. Patients on Ritalin must be monitored semi-annually according to Health Ministry guidelines, which include vital signs and growth progress, height and weight of the child.

According to the report, appearing in the daily Haaretz, 2% of Israeli children (about 51,000) are diagnosed with attention problems and some 35,000 Ritalin or Concerta prescriptions are filled annually.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. This is an old story. The pill should be renamed “the shut up pill”.
    A recent story in a Jewish weekly told a story of a Rebbe who approached a parent in regard to his unruly son. The Rebbe suggested Ritalin. The father told the Rebbe that their house was too busy in the morning and he cannot commit himself to the daily giving of the pill. The Rebbe volunteered to take care of the matter. Each morning he would send the boy to fetch his coffee and instruct to take a pill which would be placed somewhere in the coffee room.
    After four weeks the father noticed a calm change in the boy. His father asked him how things were in Cheder to which the boy replied “since i put the pill in the Rebbe’s coffee, the Rebbe has totally changed”!
    So Chevra, sometimes it’s the educators that have the problem-they are on the wrong job and the students are blamed!

  2. While I am sure there are SOME kids that DO need medication, I do feel that a big part of the problem is PARENTS that are too busy, too lazy, or just too inept at being parents to discipline their kids properly and/or adequately.
    My wife has been a 4th grade teacher for 20 years and always tells me how every year the discipline problem seems to get worse. When she calls parents to talk to them about their “tachsheet” she gets “I just don’t know what to do.”
    Well, SOMETIMES what to do MAY be to get medication, but sometimes its just to “lay down the law”, i.e. “behave yourself, or else!” with the “or else” being a punishment appropriate for the child and the situation, but one that will make the kid KNOW you are serious.
    Way too often it is obvious that the parents just can’t be bothered. Years later, when the kid gets into REAL trouble, and/or goes off the derech, these same parents will be saying “What did I do wrong? I was a good parent!” Yeah…

  3. Get them off the sugar high, then they won’t be hyper.

    Let the mothers send the kids to school with a healthy breakfast in their stomach. Sugared cereal and box drinks are not a healthy breakfast.

  4. Yona I totaly agree wth u how cme the older generation doesn’t have sooooo mant adhd cuz our mthrs took care of us the sent us to school after eatng breakfast and they sent us lunch nt whatever the school gves and if u dnt like it u go hungry all day

  5. They in many cases may not be ‘high’ on sugar or on anything else.

    It is the goal of the politically correct liberal establishment to get people ON drugs.

    Think about all the ads on radio and in magazines,
    a pill for sneezing a pill for bloating a pill for sleeping and another to wake up.

    And the side effects of these things are far worse in many cases then whatever the pill is supposed to fix, but who cares, as long as we all become walking pharmacies.

    Just today I heard in the news a woman is suing
    a company that makes a pill for stopping bone loss because after she started taking it her leg broke just walking into her bedroom and it might be the drug that caused it.

  6. There is another insidious aspect to this Ritalin exposure, in US public schools, they like to dope up the boys because they teach the class specifically for girls who I have heard learn best by simply listening to the teacher.

    But boys learn best through hands on experiments.
    They learn a math problem by actually working it out and sitting there listening to the teacher simply say it with no class participation can get boring.
    So they figit and for that that are called “disruptive” for which they are told they must go on “medication”.

    This makes them doped up zombies to far behind in learning while the girls get ahead.

    This is reflected in the fact that these days girls are protrayed in the meida as ‘smarter’ then boys because they now graduate college at a rate of something like 2 girls for evry boy.

    This is by design by the feminists who feel “cheated” by having grown up in a ‘mans world” and want to “turn the tables” and have the women controlling everything with the men being “lower class” and having all the bosses be women.

  7. 4,5,6 You are 100% right. Parents please in addition to reducing sugar treats READ THE LABEL don’t buy treats with colors and chemicals. All these changes could possibly help improve the behavour of your child so Ritalin may not be neccessary to swallow. Let food not Ritalin be your medicine. Nothing can replace a sound and nutritious diet to help your child do well in school. One more point be brave and ban the Candy man from becomming a permanent part of Shabbos Morning.