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ADHD Drugs May Cut Traffic Deaths

Update Date: Jan 29, 2014 04:42 PM EST

Adderall and other ADHD medications may cut death rates caused by traffic accidents, new research suggests.

Taking medication could prevent up to half of traffic accidents involving men with ADHD, according to a new 4-year study involving 17,000 individuals with ADHD.

Researchers found that people with ADHD are 45 percent more likely to be involved in a serious car or motorcycle accidents compared to those without the condition.

"Even though many people with ADHD are doing well, our results indicate that the disorder may have very serious consequences," Henrik Larsson, associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics said in a statement. "Our study also demonstrates in several different ways that the risk of transport accidents in adult men with ADHD decreases markedly if their condition is treated with medication."

The findings revealed that men with ADHD who received medication had significantly lower incidence of traffic accidents compared to men with ADHD who did not. When the men were compared to themselves, the study revealed that the risk of traffic accidents was 58 percent lower during periods with ADHD medication compared to periods without pharmaceutical treatment.

Additional statistical analysis revealed that 41 percent of traffic accidents involving men with ADHD could have been prevented if they had received medication for the entire follow-up period.

The findings suggest that medication may help reduce traffic accidents by easing ADHD symptoms like impulsiveness and distractibility.

"Despite having shown that medication for ADHD very likely reduces men's risk of transport accidents, we could not establish a similar reduction in women's accident risk," Larsson added. "We need further data to be able to comment about the effect on women with statistical certainty. It is also important to point out that most pharmaceutical treatments carry a risk of side effects. The risks must be weighed against the benefits for every individual prescription, taking into account the individual patient's situation."

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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