Ritalin: Mom's Little Helper

A disorder long linked to sons migrates up the family tree

When most people hear the word Ritalin, they think of little boys: waist-high hellions throwing spitballs and punches, requiring pills to control themselves. Almost nobody thinks of the boys' mothers. But these days, millions of grownups are getting treated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder too. And 50% to 60% of them are women, according to recent studies. Since boys outnumber girls roughly seven to one among kids on medication for ADHD, that leaves researchers and physicians wondering where all these women have come from.

The leading theory is that the women now seeking treatment in unprecedented numbers have actually had ADHD since...

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