Few things are sadder than children being forced to take mood-altering drugs.

Yet millions of American youths are taking dangerous meds to control the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

And unfortunately, a new study gives ammunition to those who think a potential for side effects and addiction is a fair price for an easier-to-control child.

Researchers found that kids on ADHD drugs score an average of 2.9 points higher on standardized math tests and 5.4 points higher on standardized reading tests in elementary school than kids who weren't on the drugs.

The results of the study were published recently in Pediatrics.

I understand these drugs can mean the difference between passing and failing for some children. I also understand that most parents put their kids on these drugs with great doubts, and only because they don't know what else to do.

But these drugs are in many cases not the answer. A slight improvement on test scores is worth nothing if it comes at the cost of having a child on drugs as dangerous as these.

There are nearly 2.5 million children on ADHD drugs in the United States today. That's not just a lot of kids, that's more than the entire populations of 15 states. And it's far too many.

Before you even think about ADHD drugs for your child, do your family a favor and have your doctor run a few more tests.

I've found that the symptoms many people label ADHD have their root in something else entirely: allergies, hormone deficiencies, and nutritional deficiencies.

That's what also leads to that ADHD diagnosis, and a prescription for those drugs that won't fix his underlying condition.

But if you really want your child back, correct those deficiencies. It'll make a world of difference, and you'll find better behavior – and higher test scores – will happen naturally.