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ADHD medication: is it a good idea?

Doubt has been cast on the effectiveness of methylphenidate, used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as researchers find it can cause increase sleeplessness and loss of appetite. The findings are published in the Cochrane Review.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders, involving difficulty with focusing attention and remaining “on task,” excessively impulsive behavior and extreme hyperactivity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that ADHD affects about 9.5% of children aged 3-17 in the US and can continue into adulthood. Diagnosis is based on clinical judgement rather than objective diagnostic markers.

Methylphenidate, the most commonly used medication, is more commonly known by its brand names Ritalin, Concerta, Medikinet and Equasym, among others. It has been used to treat ADHD for over 50 years, but the new research, which focuses on the benefits and harms, encourages caution in use.

A team led by Prof. Ole Jakob StorebÝ, clinical psychologist from the Psychiatric Research Unit in Region Zealand, Denmark, evaluated and summarized the findings from all of the available randomized trials of the drug.

Methylphenidate use has advantages and drawbacks

The study included data from 185 randomized controlled trials involving more than 12,000 children or adolescents. The studies were conducted mainly in the US, Canada and Europe, included males and females aged 3-18, and all compared methylphenidate with either a dummy pill or no intervention.

Methylphenidate was found to cause modest improvements in ADHD symptoms, general behavior and quality of life. There was strong evidence that methylphenidate improved teacher-rated behavior.

Analysis of adverse effects showed that children were more likely to experience sleep problems and loss of appetite while taking methylphenidate.

There was no evidence that methylphenidate was linked to serious – for example, life-threatening, adverse effects 0 but there was a 29% increase overall in non-serious effects, a 60% higher risk of sleep problems and a 266% greater risk of decreased appetite.

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Salamatezanan is Consultant & Researcher in Academic Pregnancy. Salamatezanan Founded by Azam Sadat Abdosalehi in 2015 and it's our duty to provide the contents .

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