The National Institute of Mental Health has released a study highlighting risks to children taking stimulant drugs for treating ADHD. In the United States, 2.5 million kids currently take stimulant or stimulant-like drugs (e.g. Ritalin). The NIMH study found that teens on such medication were at an increased risk for sudden cardiac death. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association have released guidelines that recommend a detailed history be taken prior to administering the drug, noting any fainting, irregular heart rhythm and family history of heart disease. Sudden cardiac death affects 330,000 people per year, including adults. If you are concerned about your child taking ADHD drugs, ask about performing further heart studies for your child. Be sure to have a pediatric cardiologist read your child’s EKG, since many rhythms are considered normal for children. The study recommends that you first consult your pediatrician before changing any current medications.
A CBS News Health watch segment covered this study in June. In a segment titled “ADHD Drug Warning,” CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton discussed chiropractic care as a potential treatment option for children with ADHD. Dr. Ashton emphasized the risks associated with ADHD drugs, stating that they can have “potent effects on the body,” including elevated heart rate and blood pressure, which she says may account for the connection between stimulant use and sudden death seen in the study. She also pointed out the alternatives to medication for ADHD symptoms. “There have been studies that have shown complementary or alternative therapies [such as] chiropractic care or dietary changes can be beneficial in some children who are on ADHD medication...either in place of, or in conjunction with, [medication].”
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Research Review , Issue #25.
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