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Study - Rare Deaths Linked To ADHD Drugs

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, June 15, 2009 6:45 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, ADHD, ADD, Children's Health, ADHD Drugs, Stimulants, Ritalin


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons / Methylphenidate chemical diagram / author: Ryanaxp

A new study published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests there may be an association between the use of stimulant medications prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, and sudden cardiac death in healthy children.

But, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot conclude that the study data affects the overall risk-benefit profile of stimulant medications used to treat children with ADHD.

More than 2 million children in the United States currently take ADHD stimulant medications including methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

Several reports of sudden, unexplained death in children taking these types of medications began to raise concerns in the early 1990s. But the rarity made them difficult to study.

In 2006, the FDA required the makers of ADHD drugs to update the drugs’ labels to warn of rare but increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and psychiatric problems.

For the study, researchers led by Madelyn Gould, a professor of clinical epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center compared 564 healthy children that died of unexpected, unknown causes to an equal number of children who died as passengers in car crashes.

They found that two patients in the car accident group were taking stimulants, while 10 in the group of those who died suddenly were taking the medicines. In all 10 cases, the children were taking methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin.

When they compared those 10 youths to age-matched controls who had died in car accidents, they found that the odds of sudden death were 7.4 times higher for children taking stimulant medications.

“Stimulants have been shown to increase blood pressure and there have been reports of them changing heart rates,” said Gould.

If your child has been taking a stimulant medication for some time, there is most likely no need for concern, Gould said. These are very rare events, and parents should not be overly concerned, she says. “The findings should not stop anyone from using medications that can help children. But clinicians who prescribe these medications must be vigilant about screening and monitoring their patients.”

The FDA is conducting two additional studies to determine the relation of ADHD medications to death and stroke. One study involves children and is expected to be completed this fall, while the other study, in adults, will not be released until 2010. #


Posted by James Cool
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 1:14 AM EST

Maybe now parents will stop drugging their kids and actually, you know, parent.

The rare child does have ADHD and they require medicine. But this phenomenon of millions of kids using these meds was thrust upon us by the drug companies in concert with doctors. We're senselessly drugging kids. Most of these parents should be ashamed.

Posted by Suzanne Leavitt
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 2:32 PM EST

Sometimes it is the teachers in school that recommend to parents to have their children put on these drugs, because it is much easier for a teacher to make it through the day if most of the kids in her class are sedated. Some parents would rather not have their child medicated. In some of those cases, teachers will contact social workers and obtain court orders for the child to be placed on these dangerous drugs, because if the parents refuse, it's called medical neglect. Now, where's the justice in that?

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 3:04 PM EST


I'd love to hear about those cases so we could profile them - incredible!

Comments for this article are closed.

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