Friday, June 19, 2009

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Update

I recently completed a series on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) where I mentioned the possibility of increased risk of sudden cardiac death in those children taking Ritalin or other stimulant medication. This was based on anecdotal reports. A study just published in the American Journal of Psychiatry demonstrates fairly conclusively that there is some small risk. This has been difficult to study as sudden death in children is a very rare event. Because of this and the methodological limitations of the study the FDA has urged caution in interpreting the results.

The FDA released a statement that says "Given the limitation of this study's methodology, the FDA is unable to conclude that these data affect the overall risk and benefit profile of stimulant medication used to treat ADHD in children. FDA believes that this study should not serve as a basis for parents to stop a child's stimulant medication".

It does serve as a reminder though that all medical treatments carry some risk. It also confirms my idea that the American Heart Association is correct by recommending routine electrocardiogram screening in addition to taking a careful history prior to stating someone on stimulant medication for ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics has disagreed with this recommendation but perhaps may change their viewpoint in light of this study.

Thought for the day

All medical treatments carry some risk.

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