Stimulant Used to Treat ADHD Associated With Fewer Injuries in Children

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics finds children with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) are less likely to injure themselves when being prescribed methylphenidate, a stimulant medication better known as Ritalin.

methylphenidate“Previous studies show that patients with ADHD have a higher tendency of sustaining trauma and other injuries, requiring emergency department (ED) attendance,” said senior author Ian C.K. Wong of the Centre for Safe Medication Practice and Research department of pharmacology and pharmacy in Hong Kong.

“These studies also suggest that impulsivity and poor concentration in some patients with ADHD may contribute to the high incidence of injury,” Wong explained to Reuters Health via email.

The researchers reviewed data on over 17,000 patients between the ages of 6 and 19 years old who had received a methylphenidate prescription between 2001 and 2013 in Hong Kong. Wong and colleagues compared the number of trauma-related emergency department admissions for each child while they were taking the prescription to the number of admissions when the child did not have the prescription.

Over the course of the study period, nearly 5,000 of the participating children were admitted to the emergency department at least once.

The researchers observed the children were 9% less likely to visit the ED with an injury during the times when they had the prescription than during periods without medication. The team also noted the effect was stronger for teens over 16 than for younger children.

Stimulants are the primary class of drug used to treat ADHD, including methylphenidate and medications made with amphetamines such as Adderall. In 2011, six percent of children in the U.S. aged 4 to 17 were taking medication prescribed for ADHD.

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