Study Shows No Scholastic Benefit for Kids Taking ADHD Medication

Posted by Pharmacist on July 29, 2013

As more American children and adolescents are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) it has become commonplace for physicians to prescribe stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. These “cognitive enhancers” are thought to improve focus and concentration, and as a result help those diagnosed improve academically.

Now studies are showing the drugs may not help. A Canadian study reviewing the medication usage and classroom grades of almost 4,000 students (with an average age of 11) found boys taking ADHD medication did worse in school than boys with similar symptoms who did not take medication. And girls taking the drugs were found to have increased emotional issues. The study was published by National Bureau of Economic Research, which is a nonprofit economics research firm.

Janet Currie is director of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, a health policy institute at Princeton University and an author on the paper. “The possibility that [medication] won’t help them [in school] needs to be acknowledged and needs to be closely monitored,” she said.

With these findings comes the million dollar question: if the drugs are proven to improve concentration and control, why aren’t grades improving?

The most recent data (from 2007) available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2.7 kids in the United States were taking ADHD medication.

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