Methylphenidate in ADHD appears to affect the white matter of the brain.
More and more children and young people are receiving adhd medication. A substance that is included in several of these drugs, methylphenidate, appears to affect brain development in children, but not in adults.
Researchers are now urging more caution when prescribing these preparations to children.
Methylphenidate is an active substance, for example, Ritalin and Concerta, two drugs that have been prescribed to thousands of Swedish children and adolescents to treat ADHD.
But if and if, how this drug affects the brain in the long run, no one knows.
– Previous studies have tried to statistically control the effects of this drug. This is the first study to investigate untreated patients, which is, of course, absolutely crucial to discovering how drugs affect the developing brain, says one of the authors of the current study, Liesbeth Reneman at Amsterdam, the journal Radiology where the study was published.
To find out more, Reneman and her colleagues recruited 50 boys and 49 young adults who were diagnosed with ADHD but had not yet started taking methylphenidate.
Patients were then given either methylphenidate or ineffective placebo for 16 weeks, while their brains were examined with a magnetic camera at the beginning and end of the study period.
Using the DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) technique, the white matter of the brain, that is, the part of the brain that lies inside the cerebral cortex and controls the communication between nerve cells of the cerebral cortex was examined.
After four months, there was a clear change in white matter regarding these parameters in drug-treated boys but not in adult adults.
– Results show that adhd drugs can have different effects on the structure of the developing brain. However, in adults with ADHD and in men and boys receiving placebo, these changes did not occur, suggesting that the effect of methylphenidate on the white matter of the brain depends on the age of the patients, Reneman says.
If and if so, what effects this change will have on patients in the long run, researchers do not yet know, but conclude that the regulation receiving this type of medication should be stricter.
– The use of ADHD drugs in children needs to be carefully considered until we learn more about the long-term effects, Reneman says.
Karl Mikael Kälkner of the Swedish Medicines Agency says it is too early to talk about whether the changes this study sees as a problem.
– Just because you see a change, you can't tell if it's good or bad.
"This may be the expected treatment effect you've seen," he continues.
He also believes that one is already restrictive in giving adhd drugs.
– The recommendations are that you should try non-pharmacological treatments first, in a structured environment, move around and have learning disruptions, says Karl Mikael Kälkner.
But the number of children and adolescents receiving ADHD has increased significantly in recent years. In 2006, nearly 10,000 children aged 0-19 received treatment with central stimulants, in 2018 the figure was just over 50,000.
Compared to the number of patients per 1,000 residents of the same age group, the number increased from 4.44 patients in 2006 to 21.57 patients in 2018, according to data from the National Committee on Health and Wellbeing.
– Although the increase may seem dramatic, the levels today are quite reasonable, says Peter Salmi on the National Committee on Health and Wellbeing.
– There is a greater general awareness of adhd and it has passed quickly. It was this development that led to rapid growth. It is not adhd grown in society but is considered constant. It's a dark figure now emerging, he says.
Adhd stands for Attention Deficit Disorder / Hyperactivity Disorder.
It is a developmental disorder that debuts in childhood and has dominant symptoms in the form of lack of attention, difficulty concentrating, excessive activity and lack of impulse control.
The number of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD has increased in the last decade. It is estimated that this condition would affect about five percent of all children.
Adhd is more common in boys than in girls.
Untreated ADHD can result in psychiatric problems, addictions and antisocial development in adolescence.
Testing should be done by a team of several specialists, and treatment should not only consist of medication, but should be accompanied by psychosocial and educational efforts.
Source: National Encyclopedia, Uppsala County Council and others.
Show more …