MONDAY, June 15,2009 (HealthDay News) -- Stimulant medications commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with an increased risk of sudden death, but those deaths are still rare, new research finds.
Children and teens taking ADHD stimulant medications were seven times more likely to die suddenly than their peers, the study found.
"What we found -- to our surprise -- is that even if you take out confounding factors, the association between stimulant use and sudden death was still significant," said study author Madelyn Gould, a professor of clinical epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City........Results of the study were published in the June 15 online edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
With 2.5 million kids in the U.S. on stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall, it's big news when research shows that the incidence of sudden death is 7.4 times higher among this group (aged 7-19). Other possible factors as causes of deaths were ruled out.
The hyperactive children killed by these drugs represent just the tip of the iceberg. You can be sure that many more children are being harmed to different degrees and in varying ways without family or physician awareness. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that the harm could often be avoided if the youngsters were properly examined and treated for nutritional deficiencies as well as allergic and toxic exposures.
Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, chief of child and adolescent treatment intervention at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health said "It rings a bell for everyone to be more attentive and less cavalier about the use of these drugs."