Entries in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (14)


Childhood ADHD on the Rise, Study Suggests

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is on the rise, a new study published on Monday suggests.

Looking at health records from Southern California, insurance provider Kaiser Permanente found that among kids ages 5 to 11, the rate of ADHD rose 24 percent between 2001 and 2010. 

Researchers also noted after examining more than 800,000 children with ADHD that boys were three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

Kaiser Permanente said it's likely the spike came from parents and doctors growing more aware of the disorder.

Critics of the study, however, say it is too narrow, focusing on members of one health plan, and that it relies too heavily on doctors' records, which can be inconsistent. 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Adderall Use on the Rise for Mothers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All over America, moms are turning to the prescription drug Adderall for relief. Adderall is a drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but these women don't have ADHD; they say they need Adderall to be better mothers.

Between 2002 and 2010, there's been a 750 percent increase in Adderall prescriptions for women between 26 and 39.  Critics say clearly not all of these women need the drug for ADHD.

ABC News spoke with Betsy Degree from suburban Minneapolis, who started taking the prescription drug to keep up with the demands of being a mother of four.

"I grew up in a house where my mom was very neat," she said.  "Everything was really clean, beautiful dinners every night and that didn't come naturally for me."

Several years ago, one of Degree's children was prescribed Adderall, a central nervous system stimulant, for ADHD.  In a moment of desperation she stole a pill from her own child and the addiction was almost immediate.

"I was able to get all the stuff done around the house," Degree said.  "I was able to cook the dinner and have everything perfect."

Degree tells ABC News she felt like supermom and would stay up until 3 a.m. doing loads of laundry.  She says she thought she'd only take it once.

"I couldn't stop," she said.  "I could not stop taking them.  I'd say I'm just going to take them one more time."

When she ran out she resorted to tricking the family doctor into writing more prescriptions.

"I would call and say we lost them.  I would call and say that dose isn't right so can we try a different dose," said Degree.  "[I was trying] every trick in the book."

Addiction doctors say the situation is getting out of control.

"This is a significant problem," said Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility.  "We've got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs. ... We know from a medical perspective it's dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death."

Adderall sent Degree, who admits she struggled with addiction issues all of her life, down a dangerous path.  When she decided she could no longer fool her doctor she switched from Adderall to meth.  She lost her business and she says she nearly lost her kids.

She is now clean and has this simple advice for any mom considering taking Adderall, "don't."

"It's pretty addictive," said Degree.  "It can happen to anybody."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Kids Be Prescribed ADHD Medications Sooner?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who start taking medications as early as fourth grade may be more likely to score better academically than those who start taking medication in middle school, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

ADHD is a developmental disorder characterized by problems focusing and erratic behavior.  Since 2007, 5.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, and 66 percent reported taking medication to treat their symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A majority of children are diagnosed with ADHD by age 7.

Researchers looked at data of nearly 12,000 Icelandic children born between 1994 and 1996, each of whom began taking medication for ADHD sometime between fourth and seventh grades.  By the time the children reached seventh grade, those who had begun taking medications within the first year of fourth grade showed only a 0.3 percent drop in their math score, compared to a 9 percent drop among children who started medication around sixth or seventh grade.

"Performance of kids with ADHD tends to decline over time, especially if medication is delayed," said Helga Zoega, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and lead author of the study.  "Starting medication earlier may halt this decline."

The girls among the group only showed improvement in math after starting medication.  The boys showed improvement in both math and language arts.

A majority of kids are diagnosed with ADHD by age 7, Zoega said.

Besides medication, treatments for ADHD include behavioral interventions, education plans and parental training.  The interventions may be the first line of treatment before medication, or may be used in combination with medication.

The study data did not show whether the children received other forms of treatment besides medication, and whether these additional treatments may have influenced their performance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prescriptions for ADHD Drugs Increasing, Says New FDA Research

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of children who received prescriptions for drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased over an eight-year period while the number of antibiotic prescriptions declined, according to a new study by the Food and Drug Administration.

Using a large national database, FDA researchers analyzed prescription drug trends among children up to age 17 between 2002 and 2010 on an outpatient basis.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the number of overall prescriptions for this age group decreased by 7 percent, in contrast to the 22 percent increase in prescriptions given to adults over the same period.  However, the authors noted that their research did not track whether the drugs were actually used, only that they were prescribed.

There were also significant decreases in the number of antibiotics, allergy medicines, pain medicines, drugs used to treat depression and certain cough and cold medications prescribed for children. But ADHD prescriptions increased by 46 percent, and there were also higher numbers of medications prescribed for asthma and birth control.

"Identification of drugs with the highest numbers of patients exposed can help focus research efforts on those drugs that could have a large impact on the pediatric population, " wrote the authors, led by Grace Chai of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Contraceptive prescriptions also skyrocketed, increasing among adolescents by 93 percent. The study did not offer in-depth analysis of reasons behind these trends, but the authors did suggest that birth control use could actually be explained by a number of factors.  Recent surveys did not find much of an increase in the number of girls using birth control, so the trend may be the result of longer use or using these medications for other reasons, such as acne.

They also found that a considerable number of infants less than 1 year old were prescribed acid reflux-controlling proton pump inhibitors -- particularly Prevacid -- although these medications are not FDA-approved for use in children this young.

On the other hand, antibiotic use decreased by 14 percent, and the authors suggest that large-scale efforts by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other children's health experts to decrease antibiotic use "by educating parents about the futility of treating viral infections with antibiotics and about concerns of antibiotic resistance" have been successful.

Similarly, the number of antidepressant prescriptions for children declined.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Youngest Kids in Grade More Likely to Be Diagnosed With ADHD

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children who are the youngest in their grades are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and be prescribed medication for the condition than their peers born earlier in the same year, according to a new Canadian study.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia compared a group of more than 937,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 and analyzed their risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and of being prescribed a medication for it.

They found that boys born in December were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and 41 percent more likely to have a medication prescribed than boys born in January. The risk was even higher for girls born at the end of the year -- they were 70 percent more likely to receive a diagnosis and 77 percent more likely to get prescribed an ADHD drug. This pattern is known as the relative age effect.

Children in Canada must be born by Dec. 31 to enter kindergarten, the authors said, which means some kids in the same grade may be almost a year apart. As a result, they may be less mature than their older peers.

"It appears that a lack of maturity among the younger children in a grade is sometimes misinterpreted as representing the symptoms of the neurobehavioral disorder of ADHD," said Richard Morrow, the study's lead author. "While many children may be appropriately diagnosed and treated, a key message from our findings is that some children who appear to meet the criteria for the diagnosis may in fact be inappropriately diagnosed."

"These findings raise concerns about the potential harms of overdiagnosis and overprescribing," he added. "These include potential adverse effects on sleep, appetite and growth, and potential increased risk of cardiovascular events."

But Dr. Jim McGough, professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, argued that the diagnoses considered by the authors to be inappropriate may not be.

"If they meet the criteria, then they have ADHD," McGough said. "But about half the kids who are diagnosed in the first grade won't meet the criteria later on."

"We don't exactly know why they no longer meet the criteria later," said Lori Evans, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center.

After children get diagnosed, they should be monitored carefully. Although McGough and Evans said the medications used to treat ADHD are safe, kids who don't need them shouldn't take them.

"Proper management of ADHD involves these kids getting assessed at regular intervals to determine whether to continue treatment," McGough said.

Morrow hopes the study will eventually lead clinicians and educators to consider the possible influence of relative age when it comes to assessing children for ADHD and trying to meet their developmental needs in school.

Evans added that the study highlights the importance of diagnosing children properly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Snoring Babies May Become Hyperactive Kids, Study Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The quality of sleep children get, including how much they snore as a baby, may affect their risk of growing into hyperactive kids down the line, suggests a new study.

The findings, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, could resonate with parents of the more than five million American children who are currently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Conducted in England as part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, investigators looked at more than 11,000 children from birth to age 7.  Sleep questionnaires were distributed to parents at six different time points.  In particular, the researchers looked for evidence of sleep-disordered breathing, which is characterized by snoring, mouth-breathing or not breathing at all for a few seconds, a condition known as apnea.

To assess the behavior of these children, the researchers administered a test known as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at ages 4 and 7.  Those with higher sleep-disordered breathing scores in infancy and/or early childhood displayed significantly more behavior problems at ages 4 and 7.  By age 7, the high snorers were more than 1.5 times as likely as their soundly sleeping peers to show hyperactivity.

Other issues linked to troublesome breathing during sleep were emotional disturbance (depression and anxiety) and aggressive, combative conduct.

Pediatricians contacted by ABC News see these results borne out by their clinical experience.

"As a general pediatrician, I come across problems related to sleep-disordered breathing every day," said Dr. Stephen Lauer, vice chairman and associate professor of pediatrics at Kansas University Medical Center.  "When there are issues of behavioral problems, school performance and especially ADHD concerns, the first question I ask has to do with sleep and snoring."

This study alone, however, cannot prove that sleep-related breathing problems are the root cause of the behavioral issues.  Lead author Karen Bonuck, researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said that despite the "strong and persistent association between the symptoms and the outcome... [t]here is always the potential in epidemiologic research that there are characteristics that aren't accounted for."

Even factors the researchers accounted for in their work may have exerted an unseen influence.  Prematurity, smoking during pregnancy and lower socioeconomic status -- each individually associated with childhood behavioral troubles -- were seen more among the problem sleepers, which brings up the possibility of an as-yet-unknown uniting cause.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Possible Link Between Anesthesia and ADHD

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, Minn.) -- Young children who undergo multiple procedures requiring anesthesia could be at higher risk for developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later on, according to a new study published in the current issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Children's Hospital in Boston analyzed the medical records of more than 5,300 children previously enrolled in other studies.  They found that children younger than two years old who underwent more than one procedure that called for anesthesia were more likely to develop ADHD.

But Dr. David Warner, a co-author and professor of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic, stressed that the study only found an association between the procedures performed on the children in the study and ADHD.

"We need to do more work to confirm whether this is really a problem in children or not," he said.  "We can't exclude there is a problem, but we also haven't determined there is a problem."

The potential effects on the developing brain also remain unknown, he said.  Previous studies on young rodents found a link between anesthesia exposure and problems with learning and memory.  But while researchers are able to separate out the effects of anesthesia on animals by exposing them only to anesthesia, they cannot do the same in children, making it difficult to determine whether ADHD is related to the anesthetic drugs, to the specific procedures, or to other medical conditions.

"It's not normal for a one-year-old to have two surgeries before the age of two, so maybe there are some underlying conditions that leads them to have surgery," said Dr. Rod Eckenhoff, vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  Eckenhoff was not involved with the Mayo Clinic research.

Prior research on children has also linked surgical procedures to learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders in children and the risk of deteriorating brain function in the elderly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Adderall Drug Shortage Will Continue in 2012, Gov't Officials Say

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A contentious relationship between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Agency may cause a continuing shortage of the attention deficit medication Adderall, which the Food and Drug Administration just added to its official drug shortages list, the New York Times reported.

As of 2007, about 9.5 percent of school-aged children, or 5.4 million, were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since then, prescriptions for Adderall have numbered in the millions and continue to increase. And as demand for the drug grows, more and more patients have found the medication is out of stock at local pharmacies.

Experts say it’s difficult to say where the reason for drug shortage lies. To manage controlled substances that can potentially be abused, the DEA sets manufacturing quotas for drug ingredients each year to control supplies like Adderall. But Adderall drug manufacturers, which include Shire Plc and Novartis, Teva and CorePharma LLC, say they cannot meet the growing demand for the product without looser limits from the DEA.

The DEA questions whether there is actually a shortage of generic supplies, which are at an especially low supply, or whether the drug companies want to sell more of the expensive brand-name drugs.

Despite the growing demand, Special Agent Gary Boggs of the DEA’s office of diversion control told the New York Times, "We believe there is plenty of supply."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New ADHD Guidelines Expanded to Include Four-Year-Olds

Comstock/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Guidelines to diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been updated to include children as young as four.

ADHD, a condition that makes it difficult for children to focus and concentrate, initially covered youngsters between the ages of six and 12.  But the American Academy of Pediatrics now says these rules should be expanded to include anyone from four to 18 because of more comprehensive research into understanding the condition.

Mark Wolraich, who chaired the committee presenting the latest findings, said it's important to evaluate four-year-olds because "these children may have been kicked out of preschool programs or they may have parents who are really getting angry at them much of the time."

Treatment for these children to reduce stress is first through behavioral therapy practiced by parents.  If that fails, doctors may prescribe Ritalin -- the most common medication to deal with ADHD patients -- beginning with low doses.

ADHD affects as many as 8 percent of all children and adolescents in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Coffee Treat ADHD?

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Christie Haskell saw the classic symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, in her 7-year-old son, Rowan, she became concerned.

"At home there was a lot of just hyperactivity," she told ABC News. "Not being able to keep his hands to himself, talking when he's not supposed to talk, lack of concentration or ability to concentrate when he needed to."

Convinced Rowan suffered from ADHD, but without an official diagnosis, Haskell turned to the Internet in search of a treatment that would ease her son's attention difficulties.

ADHD is one of the most common behavioral problems in children, characterized by difficulty in sustaining attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.  It occurs more frequently in boys than girls, and is typically treated with drugs.

Haskell wanted a treatment for her son that wouldn't give him the side effects of traditional drugs, like Ritalin, commonly used to treat the disorder.  What she found, and began to use to treat Rowan, took her not to the medicine counter nor even the natural health foods store, but rather to her kitchen, where she brewed a pot of coffee.

Now, twice a day, seven days a week, Rowan gets a four ounce cup of coffee, delivered as consistently as, and just like, medicine.

Haskell, a writer for Café Mom's blog The Stir, says the caffeinated beverage, known for its ability to rev up a person's energy, actually makes her son less jittery.

"He doesn't overreact if we ask him to pick up Legos, rather than screaming and throwing himself on the floor," she said.  "And if we ask him to sit down and do homework, he can actually do it."

Rowan says he enjoys two things about his coffee regimen.

"It tastes good," he told ABC.  "And it calms me down."

Haskell blogged about her treatment on The Stir, and says plenty of parents claim similar success using coffee to treat ADHD.

Doctors, however, warn there is no proof that coffee works as a treatment for ADHD.  They also, more ominously, warn the well-documented, dangerous side effects of caffeine in children -- from a higher heart rate, to higher blood pressure and headaches -- may do more harm than good in the still developing bodies of young children like Rowan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio