Thursday, October 24, 2019

ADHD Medication May Reduce Risk of Injuries in Youth With Co-Occurring Developmental Disorders

ADHD medication may reduce the risk of unintentional injuries in youth with ADHD and co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, suggests a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

While previous studies have found a negative association between ADHD medication use and risk of injuries in children and adolescents, this is the first observational study exploring risk in children with ADHD and a co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorder, wrote Laura Ghirardi, M.Sc., of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and colleagues.

Ghirardi and colleagues used data from Sweden’s Total Population Register and National Patient Register to identify individuals aged 5 to 18 who had received an ADHD diagnosis between 2006 and 2013, including those who had also been diagnosed with the following neurodevelopmental disorders: autism spectrum disorder, communication disorders, intellectual disability, learning disorders, and motor disorders. They then gathered information from the Prescribed Drug Register on the patients’ use of ADHD medications, including methylphenidate, amphetamine, dexamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine, and atomoxetine.

The researchers tracked the youth’s inpatient and outpatient visits reporting injury until the end of 2013, the youth aged out of the study, or death, whichever came first. They then compared the rate of injuries during periods when the youth were taking ADHD medication with the rate of injuries during periods they were not taking medication.

Of the 9,421 children and adolescents with ADHD included in the analysis, 2,986 had a co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorder; 1,390 had autism spectrum disorder. The rate of any unintentional injury and traumatic brain injury was lower during periods when the youth were taking ADHD medication compared with when they were not taking ADHD medication. Youth with co‐occurring neurodevelopmental disorders were 12% less likely to have an unintentional injury and 73% less likely to have a traumatic brain injury when taking ADHD medication.

The findings have “clinical and public health relevance, considering the high rate of comorbidity among [neurodevelopmental disorders] and the fact that unintentional injuries are relatively common among children and adolescents,” the authors wrote.

For related news, see the Psychiatric News article “Many Youth With ADHD Fail to Take Stimulants as Prescribed.”

(Image: iStock/Pollyana Ventura)

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