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ADHD Treatments Not Effective in Controlling the Condition in Children

Update Date: Feb 12, 2013 05:41 AM EST

Children who are on medication for ADHD have just as severe symptoms- like impulsivity and inability to concentrate- as children with ADHD who don't take any medication for the condition, according to a new study.

ADHD or Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized with the inability to pay attention, controlling behavior and being overtly active, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The condition is rapidly increasing in the U.S., with one out of every ten children showing symptoms of ADHD. The condition can't be cured but can be successfully controlled.

The study, led by researchers from Johns Hopkins Children's Center, shows the inefficiency of current treatment options for ADHD.

"ADHD is becoming a more common diagnosis in early childhood, so understanding how the disorder progresses in this age group is critical. We found that ADHD in preschoolers is a chronic and rather persistent condition, one that requires better long-term behavioral and pharmacological treatments than we currently have," said Mark Riddle, M.D., a pediatric psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

The study included 186 children with ADHD symptoms who were followed for more than 6 years. Study participants were between ages 3 and 5 when they were enrolled for the study. The children had complete diagnosis of the condition and researchers obtained data on kids' development from parents and teachers, especially data regarding the child's behavior, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Study results showed that children receiving ADHD medication showed no improvement in ADHD symptoms some 6 years after initial diagnosis.

Some 58 percent children who weren't on any anti-ADHD medication had higher symptoms of impulsivity compared to about 62 percent of children who were on medication- showing that ADHD drugs may not do as good as expected in improving symptoms of ADHD in these children. Further, 65 percent of children on ADHD-drugs had problems with attention when compared to 62 percent children who weren't taking any medication.

Researchers add that they don't have any data on medication dosage, adherence or ineffectiveness of the medication and so can't provide answers on why children who take medication have no benefits over children who aren't on medication for the condition.

"Our study was not designed to answer these questions, but whatever the reason may be, it is worrisome that children with ADHD, even when treated with medication, continue to experience symptoms, and what we need to find out is why that is and how we can do better," Riddle said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Recently, a related study published in the Medical Journal of Australia had found that stimulant medication for ADHD can delay development in teenage boys.

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