ADHD Medications Assocatiated With Lower Risk of Smoking in Diagnosed Children

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The association between people with ADHD and higher rates of cigarette smoking compare to their peers without ADHD has been well documented for years. However, taking medications to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse – may be able to make children with ADHD less likely to smoke, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., found that kids with AHD who are treated with stimulant medications were approximately half as likely to smoke as children with the disorder who weren’t treated with drugs.

“We found an association between getting treated with stimulant medications and having a lower risk of smoking in adolescence and adulthood,” study researcher and clinical psychologist Erin Schoenfelder said in the report published online May 12 and in the June print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 11 percent of American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have a diagnosis of ADHD. Children with ADHD can be impulsive, and exhibit behavioral problems, as well as struggling with contration. About 70 to 80 percent of the children respond to stimulant medicine, according to the CDC. teens with ADHD are also two to three times more likely to smoke cigarettes as their friends without a clinical diagnosis.

However, the research on the effects of ADHD drugs on the risk of smoking has been conflicting.

The Duke researchers sought to finally clarify the issue by re-analyzing the results of 14 previous studies published between 1980 and 2013 regarding cigarette smoking and ADHD treatments. The studies included more than 2,30 children with ADHD, of which about 1,400 of the kids were treated with stimulant medications

The average follow-up time was about seven years. The researchers then compared the teens treated with stimulants to those who weren’t to see which group was more likely to smoke.

Overall, those who were being treated with medication were about half as likely to smoke as those not on the medications, according to Schoenfelder.

“Those who took their medication consistently and for a longer period of time had an even lower risk of smoking,” she added.

However, the researchers note that association does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Schoenfelder suggests one potential reason medication might decrease the rates of smoking is that both nicotine and the stimulant medications used to treat ADHD operate on the same pathways of the brain and both improve the same processes disrupted by ADHD.

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