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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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ADHD meds shown to be effective, safe

By Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D. Universal Uclick

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter has ADHD. I have heard conflicting reports about ADHD medication for kids. Please tell me, is it safe and does it work?

DEAR READER: ADHD stands for “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention and are impulsive and hyperactive. These symptoms can make it harder for them to function at school and at home.

Methylphenidate is the most commonly prescribed drug for ADHD. It’s known by many brand names, including Ritalin, Concerta and Quillivant. It has been used for over 50 years to treat ADHD.

Despite its long history, the first comprehensive, systematic review of the benefits and risks of this drug was not published until 2015.

The researchers reviewed hundreds of studies that examined the effects of methylphenidate. They found the drug improved children’s performance in the classroom. And parents reported a better quality of life for the family. On the other hand, there was some evidence it increased the risk of sleep problems and decreased appetite.

So what does this mean for parents trying to decide whether their child should take ADHD medication?

Parents can rest assured that methylphenidate is unlikely to cause serious, long-term problems. About 1 in 4 children who take the drug may have minor and short-lived problems with sleep and appetite. Knowing these issues might be a problem can help parents anticipate possible solutions. For example, if appetite becomes a problem, you can give your child a big breakfast before taking the medication.

In addition, parents should be aware that medication isn’t the only treatment option. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy can also help children with ADHD.

I believe ADHD is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

The bottom line? When medication is prescribed correctly by a knowledgeable physician, the positives outweigh the negatives.

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