ADHD Medications Alleviate Symptoms, But May Lead To Sleep Disorders In Children

John Houck

After years of conflicting evidence, new research suggests that children who take attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications to control symptoms can also suffer from sleep disorders.

Current estimates indicate between five and 11 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from ADHD symptoms. A recent CBS News report revealed that over 3.5 million children take some kind of ADHD medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall.

While global estimates vary, it seems more and more children are being diagnosed with the condition. According to a related Inquisitr report, ADHD medication prescriptions have increased substantially worldwide, particularly in the United States, China, and Israel. Pharmaceutical experts are predicting $17.5 billion will be spent on treatments by the year 2020.

Katherine Kidwell, lead researcher with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, took a close look at seven clinical trials in which children with ADHD were randomly assigned to take a drug or a placebo pill.

The test results showed that children given medication had more sleep problems. Specifically, some kids who were given the generic form of Ritalin, slept 20 minutes less than children taking the placebo pills. Additionally, they found that the more frequent the dose, the more trouble the child had falling asleep.

Interestingly, the researchers noticed that the drugs caused more sleeping problems in boys than girls. In general, the sleep issues tended to go away in time, but never entirely.

While Kidwell does see a connection between management drugs and sleep, parents and doctors are not advised to stop giving children with ADHD medication. However, she does recommend doses and frequency be closely monitored.

"Sleep adverse effects could undermine the benefits of stimulant medications in some cases. Pediatricians should carefully consider dosage amounts, standard versus extended release, and dosage frequencies to minimize sleep problems while effectively treating ADHD symptoms."

In another study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, young adults who took ADHD medications were twice as likely to be bullied than children who did not take the drugs.

Over four years, 5,000 teens in middle and high school were asked about bullying and their use of ADHD medications that included Ritalin and Adderall. The survey results showed twenty percent of kids with ADHD were asked by other teens to sell or share their medications. Astonishingly, half of them did.

According to Science World Report, the children who shared were five times more likely to be bullied than children who did not. In general, the report also showed children with ADHD were bullied far more often than children without.

Due to discrepancies with reporting, researchers admit the results are not 100 percent accurate. Researchers also noted that there was there was no specific link found that suggests taking ADHD medication directly leads to bullying.

Affecting 6.4 million U.S. children between the ages of four and 17, symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD medications are prescribed by pediatricians to significantly reduce these symptoms.

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