News Article Details

Study questions ADHD overmedication in kids

News Leader - 9/6/2017

A University of Florida study is among the first to evaluate whether a child's age at the time of a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder influences treatment. It also raises numerous questions about why young children with ADHD are being heavily medicated. Researchers in the UF College of Pharmacy determined that a child's age when diagnosed with ADHD may be a strong predictor of the types and number of medications that are later prescribed to treat psychiatric conditions.

"There is a significant amount of ADHD drug treatment happening at a young age that is not supported by evidence," said Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., a UF professor. "In many instances, we do not know the impact these drugs have on the developing brain and whether any physical side effects may happen."

Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the study found that preschoolers with ADHD were more likely to receive antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and multiple mental health drugs during a five-year follow-up period compared with children with later-onset ADHD. For children diagnosed with ADHD between ages 3 and 9, each year of follow-up increased the probability of taking multiple mental health drugs and antipsychotic and anticonvulsant use, with the most profound effect in children diagnosed at age 3. In contrast, children diagnosed after age 9 showed no significant growth in any of the three outcomes over time. American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines state that behavioral therapy is the recommended first-line treatment for ADHD in young children and should be tried before medication is prescribed.


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