Jacob, a child with Down Syndrome, enjoying a family holiday and browsing in shops, like any other 5 year old child wouldJacob looking at books and watching TV at age 6 years - Down Syndrome doesn't stop normal development, but social attitudes do. - Jacob, a baby with Down Syndrome - Jacob at one year of age

Down Syndrome Children And Smart Drugs: Vinpocetine, Piracetam, etc.

Smart drugs, such as Vinpocetine and Piracetam, are used with children with Down Syndrome to boost their performance and or try and overcome their intellectual disability


  • The controversy over the use of smart drugs in kids with Down Syndrome
  • What are smart drugs?
  • Which smart drugs can a child with Down Syndrome take?
  • Piracetam for children with Down Syndrome
  • How to look at the effectiveness of a smart drug, such as piracetam, when used on a child with Down Syndrome?
  • How effective is the smart drug piracetam on children with Down Syndrome?
  • My child with Down Syndrome has grown up. What about using smart drugs now?
  • A smart drug used by university students.
  • Our Personal experience with smart drugs, Down syndrome and Jacob, plus a warning about using vinpocetine in people with Down Syndrome.

The controversy over the use of smart drugs in kids with Down Syndrome:

The use of smart drugs in kids, including those with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilites, is a controversal and hot topic amongst parents.

There are many who believe that parents who use smart drugs on their kids should be punished and rebuked for subjecting their kids to drugs that may damage them further.

Other parents who have kids with Down Syndrome or another intellectually disabling condition, argue that they have the right to pursue a more normal intelligence for their kids.

Parents with non-intellectually handicapped kids want to use smart drugs to make their kids excell in class, or at least do better, to achieve more in life.

There is also the problem of jealousy amongst parents when it comes to smart drugs – some parent’s don’t want to see other kids get ahead of theirs – particularly so if the smart drug has to be used from a young age that their kid is now too old to benefit from.

So what follows is a description of smart dugs and what can be expected to be achieved. The advantages and disadvantages of smart drugs for kids are given as well.

What are smart drugs?

So, what is a smart drug? A drug that appears to make you smarter. Allows you to generate more work in a given amount of time, perhaps with less errors. Some give you a heightened sense of self…so it goes on.

Which smart drugs can a child with Down Syndrome take?

There appear to be hundreds, if not thousands of smart drugs on the market. How safe a smart drug is, is very much age related. As far as I know, there is only one smart drug that appears to be safe that can be given to a kid above six months of age. All the rest have real health dangers when used with kids. The safe one is Piracetam. One we used withJacob for several years.

Piracetam and kids with Down Syndrome

For maximum effect, the smart drug piracetam is suppose to be used in conjunction with choline, which we also used with Jacob. When used with choline, piracetam has been claimed to boost intelligence.

So, piracetam has become quite marketable amongst parents who want to give their kid an edge. Anything that boosts intelligence has to be good, right?

How to look at the effectiveness of a smart drug, such as piracetam, on a child with Down Syndrome?

In answering that question, it is necessary to understand some important difference in how people use words. When someone talks of a statistically significant improvement, they are saying that a statistical test found an improvement that would not normally be expected. This improvement could be anything from a very tiny difference to a whopping big difference.

So you could take a smart drug that has statistically significant results – which sounds very impressive – but the smart drug’s effect may not be even noticable to you or the kid or adult.

The other measure we need to look at is what is called clinical significance. In other words, the effect of the smart drug is very noticable and obviously appears to have an effect.

However, sometimes clinical effects aren’t real. In other words, the effect may not be due to the smart drug, but to expectations and so on. So, to say a smart drug is going to be useful to your kid, or kids with Down Syndrome or other intellectual disability, really implies the smart drug is going to be both stastically and clinically significant – it has to be both, or there is no point in taking the smart drug.

How effective is the smart drug, piracetam, on children with Down Syndrome?

So, for a kid, or infant over six months of age, the only smart drug is piracetam that we need look at – even variations of the smart drug piracetam are considered to be too dangerous for kids.

The research clearly shows that piracetam on it’s own is unable to boost intelligence IQ.

With piracetam and choline used together, the studies that verify it as being statistically significant are remote – far between. The gains though, although they may achieve statistical significance, do not really have any clinical benefit to the kid that I am aware of. The gains are too low to make a real differnce to their life, but that’s my opinion now.

You may feel that any possibility of even a one intelligence quotient IQ point gain is worth the money. In the end, it’s your decision, just like it was for us with our son Jacob.

My child with Down Syndrome has grown up. What about using smart drugs now?

So your kid has Down Syndrome and is now an adult, or may be an adult without disability but needing an edge, going to university… The list of useful smart drugs is endless.

For adults, for the most part, the smart drugs are considered safe to use, apart from the odd side effect. So, what to do.

First, check with your doctor before starting any, to make sure it is going to be safe for the person to take. To give an example, vinpocetine is considered very safe for the general population, one of it’s effects is to lower the blood pressure in the brain. For the general population this is normally a good thing, but for a person with Down Syndrome, this is a problem.

With Down Syndrome, the brain blood pressure is already much lower than in the general population, so when you use vinpocetine, you may lower it to the point where it can beome dangerous to the person. It may cause dizziness and fainting. There is no easy way to measure the brain’s blood pressure, so all you can do is carefully monitor the person closely to see if the bad effects tart to show up.

Apart from the safety aspect, don’t be afraid to alter which smart drug you are using. If it doesn’t seem to do any good, consider trying another smart drug. If you find any that really improves the abilities, then PLEASE contact me through my email address or through the Down Syndrome Chat forum. The information is something we would all like to know about and share with others.

A smart drug used by university students.

BrainQuicken is a smart drug that appears to increase work output per unit of ime. An essay that may have taken a person 2 hours to write, may possibly be written in one hour when this smart drug is taken. It’s effects last about a day and you can take it 6 out of 7 days. If you trying taking the smart drug for more than six days straight, you may find that the smart drug stops working.

For better or worse, I don’t see us getting rid of smart drugs now

In relation to Down Syndrome, Jacob and smart drugs:

I have just received a warning that vinpocetine, which is also an ingredient in Brainquicken, may be unsuitable for those with Down Syndrome.

The possible problem with using vinpocetine is that it is believed to work in part by increasing the nitric oxide level in the brain, which in turn causes the brain’s vascular system to relax.

For those with Down Syndrome, nitric oxide levels are already high and these people are considered to have an already overrelaxed vascular system. So there is potential harm by relaxing the vascular system even further in the brain – low blood pressure in the brain, faintness, dizziness… BUT we are still seeing if there is anyway around this problem.

We found a paediatrician (March, 2004) who has researched vinpocetine at our request and agrees with us, that although he doesn’t know if it will help Jacob, he does feel Jacob should be able to take it safely. His feeling was that if there was no dramatic improvement, the drug should be stopped. I will add more discussing vinpocetine within the next few months.

(May to July 2004) We withdrew and reintroduced piracetam two times to Jacob and noticed no real difference in his behaviour.

We also found that vinpocetine gave no improvement in his behaviour when it was withdrawn and then reintroduced.

I suspect that when immediate gains are noticed that it may be more that the new behavior was about to emerge and perhaps the novelty of introducing the smart drug accelerated the process a bit.

Also, initially his language went to almost non existence when the smart drugs were out of his system, but then his language seemed to come back even stronger, speaking more than when he was on them. So he may be “retarded” by these drugs when they are used. His focus and attention both seem to be better when he is off the smart drugs than when he is on them. This analysis was also based on observations by the staff in his kindergarten.

To put it differently, I suspect the smart drugs increase vigilance (activity/alertness), but that with Jacob, it increases his vigilance too much to the point of hyper vigilance – less focused, more all over the place….We will be reintroducing these two smart drugs at a later time to check out the effects again.

We did, no improvement was seen in Jacob’s behavior when the smart drugs were reintroduced.

The suggestion is the smart drugs may be of benefit to those who have a more ‘sluggish’ personality.

Your question on smart drugs and Down Syndrome answered!

Down Syndrome and Smart drugs – Nootropics – in adult people with Down Syndrome

My son has taken Aricept for 8 years. I have seen positive changes. He was part of the study at Duke Univ in 1999. Have you heard of adding Piracetam to a daily 5mg. of Aricept?

I remember that study, but haven’t heard much about it. Could you email a report of it please if you have one or a URL?
Anyway, from memory, Aricept was considered the better alternative to piracetam, but had the drawback that it was dangerous to kids – hence with Jacob we used piracetam as aricept was dangerous because of his young age.
Mixing drugs is somewhat dangerous and you would need to discuss this with a drug interaction expert, which may be your local doctor or perhaps a poison information centre – Also, with piracetam, to gain it’s full benefit, you normally add another drug to it, such as DMAE, centrophenoxine, choline, or Hydergine. So really you will be looking at the interaction of around three drugs + what other medications or what ever you may be giving your son.
As another option: We will be looking at the possibility of using Brainquicken with Jacob when he is old enough – one of the draw backs though is that it may lower the blood pressure too low in a DS brain which may lead to fainting and so on.
There is a new drug being developed which has shown marked improvement for those with DS (mice), but they are still working out the dosage and safety of it, product purity, for humans with DS. This is the biloba one you may have heard of as well. In time, this may be the best option for those with DS, but for now it is still in reseach mode.
Hope that helps,

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