Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Popular ADHD Drug May Be Safe And Effective For Some Pre-schoolers, Study Finds

Date:
October 25, 2006
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
A new study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and five other medical centers concludes that carefully measured, low doses of methylphenidate (Ritalin) are safe and effective for attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschoolers. Investigators warn, however, that three to five-year-olds appear more sensitive to the drug's side effects, which include irritability, insomnia and weight loss, than are older children with ADHD and require closer monitoring.

A new study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and five other medical centers concludes that carefully measured, low doses of methylphenidate (Ritalin) are safe and effective for attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschoolers. Investigators warn, however, that 3- to 5-year-olds appear more sensitive to the drug's side effects, which include irritability, insomnia and weight loss, than are older children with ADHD and require closer monitoring.

Related Articles


Children who took the drug also experienced somewhat slower growth rates. On average, children on the drug grew half an inch per year less than expected and gained 2.9 pounds less than expected. Researchers recommend that pediatricians weigh the risks of slowed growth rates against the benefits of treatment. Children on long-term treatment with methylphenidate should be monitored carefully several times a year to assess growth changes over time.

Methylphenidate is the most widely prescribed drug for the treatment of ADHD in children but is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children younger than 6.

Results of the federally funded research, the first large-scale, long-term study of the safety and value of the drug in younger children, appear in a special section of the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

"These results give us the missing links in the decision to prescribe a drug that's been widely used off-label in preschool-age children," says Mark Riddle, M.D., director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Children's Center and a co-author on the study, which followed 303 children between 3 and 5 over 70 weeks. "We were able to confirm what many already suspected-that even lower doses in preschoolers can safely achieve the desired therapeutic effect and indeed that low doses are often optimal."

Children in the study were started on a low-dose regimen of medication ranging from 3.75 mg total daily to 22.5 mg total daily. By comparison, the cumulative daily dose for older children ranges from 15 mg per day to 50 mg per day. The optimal dose needed to reduce symptoms ranged widely in preschool-age children, but on average, 14 mg daily was effective in reining in symptoms.

"One of the surprises was that in some cases, doses as low as even 3 to 4 mg a day were helpful to some preschoolers, which goes to show that lower doses need to be given a chance before higher doses are tried," Riddle explains.

About 11 percent of those enrolled in the study experienced side effects severe enough to drop out. These included weight loss, anxiety, skin picking, mood disturbances and insomnia.

"We want parents to know that trained professionals can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe helpful and safe treatment in preschoolers with ADHD," Riddle says. "But do expect your prescribing physician to monitor side effects closely and regularly and to tweak the dose if necessary."

ADHD is characterized by a wide range of symptoms, including inability to concentrate, being easily distracted, fidgeting and restlessness, among others. Left untreated, ADHD can interfere with academic progress and social and emotional development. More than 4.4 million children in the United States have ADHD, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2 percent of preschool-age children are believed to have ADHD.

Other Hopkins researchers included Elizabeth Kastelic, M.D., Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., Margaret Schlossberg, Ph.D.., Alexander Scharko, M.D., now at the University of Wisconsin, and Jaswinder Ghuman, M.D., now at the University of Arizona. The study was led by Laurence Greenhill, M.D., of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Other study sites included Duke University, New York University, the University of California-Los Angeles, and the University of California-Irvine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Popular ADHD Drug May Be Safe And Effective For Some Pre-schoolers, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192626.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2006, October 25). Popular ADHD Drug May Be Safe And Effective For Some Pre-schoolers, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192626.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Popular ADHD Drug May Be Safe And Effective For Some Pre-schoolers, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192626.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins