Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finnish Study Questions Long-Term Effectiveness of ADHD Medications

The article is a bit dated, but it’s a MUST READ! Written by Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times and printed in Newsday this past year, the title says it all:

“ADHD Studies Raise Questions On Drug Treatments”

In the article, Ms. Healy cites a series of studies following 457 Finnish children from birth to ages 16 to 18, noting that ”the studies raise provocative questions about the long-term effects of treating those symptoms with medication.”

The studies compared 188 Finnish teens considered to have "probable or definite ADHD" and 103 youths with conduct disorder - behavior that fell short of ADHD but put them at higher risk for similar problems – to a group of Finnish teens with no ADHD diagnosis.

Researchers found the following: “the can't-sit-still kids - the stereotype of the ‘ADHD generation’ - were most likely to mature out of the disease. Among those with persistent ADHD, . . . half have problems with cognitive skills that are key to success in adulthood, but half have no such deficits.”

But, here’s the amazing part:

The researchers found that

“By the time [the ADHD children reach] their late teens, those who receive drugs for attention problems seem to fare about the same as those who do not.”

This finding seems to lend support to the idea that some children do actually grow out of ADHD. See “ADHD Kids Can Get Better,” Krista Mahr,

So, as one of the authors of the study eloquently put it, "This begs the question: Are current treatments really leading to improved outcome over time?"

And, finally, UCLA neuroscientist Robert Bilder said the studies suggest ADHD might best be treated by “shoring up weaknesses in underlying cognitive skills.”

For more about the long-term problems of using drugs to treat ADHD, check out "Talking Back To Ritalin," by Dr. Peter Breggin. For a wonderful discussion of non-medication, neurological approaches to treating attention and learning issues, see "The Mislabeled Child," by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide. In fact, Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide describe in great detail, many of the theories and approached utilized at Spark Development!

Neither Dr. Bilder nor Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide received any remuneration from Spark Development.

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