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Report Raises Questions about Drug's Safety

Concerns have been raised in Canada about the safety of Strattera, a non-stimulant drug intended to treat symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children. The drug was made available to the public amid praises that it was the first non-stimulant medication that had been effective in the treatment of ADHD.
"New questions are being raised about a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder amid reports more than 40 Canadian kids have attempted suicide after taking it... Health Canada said it received 189 reports of adverse reactions associated with the non-stimulant drug... Strattera, from the time it was put on the market in February 2005, to the end of last year."
University researchers and doctors are urging parents to educate themselves on possible side effects of all drugs used to treat ADHD, as some health risks are not widely publicized. Source: The London Free Press

Labels: medications, safety

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Summer Vacation - Break from School and Medication?

For many kids, their favorite part of the school year is, well, summer. They don't have to get up early, don't have to do homework, and may not have to take their Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medication.
"Some parents make the decision to give their child a break from medication when their child's primary issues with ADHD are related to concentration and focus and their symptoms are fairly mild. In other words, they have no other significant behavioral or social issues related to their ADHD, and summer time experiences would be just as positive on or off medication."
Taking children off their ADHD medication is not a decision parents should make lightly. If you're considering taking your child off her medication for the summer, take into account her need for structure and routines, her level of attentiveness and her ability to get along with others.

And, of course, consult your child's doctor before making any final decision. Source: About.com

Labels: behavior, medications, concentration

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Medication Should be Taken After Breakfast

School breakfast programs are provided at many public schools and help ensure that students get the food and fuel they need for their day. But the programs can cause unexpected issues for children who take medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Children who participate in school breakfast programs often take their medication before leaving the house. Not only can that cause serious side effects, but it can reduce the effectiveness of the medication, making it difficult to gauge how well the medicine is working.
"All stimulants often create significant medications problems when given on an empty stomach - from Concerta, to Adderall, to Vyvanse, and even the non-stimulant, less effective Strattera, should be given to children following breakfast."
Source: CorePsych

Labels: medications, side_effects, interactions

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How Ritalin Works

Stimulant medications like Ritalin have long been used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Though Ritalin is known to be effective, only recently has the medical community begun to understand how it works.
"In a paper published online this week in Biological Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology researchers David Devilbiss and Craig Berridge report that Ritalin fine-tunes the functioning of neurons in the prefrontal cortex - a brain region involved in attention, decision-making and impulse control - while having few effects outside it."
This is good news for parents who worry that Ritalin could be damaging to other parts of the brain.. While high doses of the medication could still pose problems, clinically accurate (low) doses are proving to be safe and effective. Source: MediLexicon News

Labels: medications, research, stimulants

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Pediatricians can Help Define and Treat ADHD

Kids, it's said, will be kids - and that includes occasional hyperactive behavior. But a child whose hyperactivity is extreme or continuous may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and a pediatrician can help parents figure out what to do.
"Pediatricians offer a good starting point for diagnosing ADHD. They can assess the youngster or they can refer parents to appropriate specialists such as child psychiatrists or psychologists, behavioral neurologists, or developmental/behavioral pediatricians, if needed."
A pediatrician uses a series of standardized questions that focus on the child's behavior in a variety of locations during a wide range of times to determine if an ADHD diagnosis is a possibility. If you think your child may have ADHD, a pediatrician can be one of your greatest allies. Source: Contra Costs Times

Labels: behavior, hyperactivity, diagnosis

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Website Offers Organization Tips for ADHD Families

Life is busy and hectic for every family. But for families of children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children, organization and structure are even more important. A new website, Organizing For ADHD, aims to help parents by offers suggestions for keeping the house in (reasonable) order.
"The more stuff we own, the more difficult it is to find places to store it all. When this happens, sometimes our things enter spaces that they don't belong, and the kitchen becomes the playroom. One easy fix for this problem is to designate rooms or spaces in the house for each activity."
Sample pieces of the advice offered on the site include the following:
  • If your child is young enough to have toys, consider sorting through the toys and putting them in plastic, see-through bins. This will make it easier for your child to find the toy he wants without dumping the whole bin onto the floor.
  • For older children, start putting homework right in front of the door. That way, they are less likely to forget it.
Source: eMaxHealth

Labels: organization, tips, families

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Toddler Overdoses on Prescription Drug

A Lubbock, Texas, mother is in custody pending possible criminal charges after her toddler overdosed on medication designed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The woman gave the medication to her two-year-old daughter, who doesn't have ADHD, which caused the child to become sick and unresponsive.
"'In this particular instance, you're dealing with ADHD and ADD. That particular treatment is designed to offset chemical imbalances in the brain, and if that medication is not intended for that particular individual, you can get all kinds of bad effects,' [Lubbock Police Sergeant Ross] Hester said."
The girl and her sibling are now in protective custody, and their mother faces child-endangerment charges. Source: KCBD TV

Labels: medications, side_effects, preschoolers

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University to Study Autism and ADHD

The University of Pittsburgh has been awarded $3 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children with autism. The study will test two types of treatment: a nonstimulant medication and parent management training.
"'ADHD symptoms are common in children with autism, but children with autism often do not respond well to stimulant medications, the conventional treatment for ADHD,' said Benjamin Handen, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine."
The 10-week clinical trial will start enrolling patients in September. Researchers hope to recruit 144 children ages 5 to 13 who have both autism and symptoms of ADHD. Source: MediLexicon News

Labels: research, treatment, studies

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ADHD Not Helped by St. John's Wort

In addition to traditional prescription medication, some parents turn to herbal remedies for treating their child's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. But a study conducted by Bastyr University in Washington has found that on of the more popular herbs, St. John's Wort, is not an effective treatment for ADHD.
"[Lead author Wendy] Weber and co-workers recruited 54 children with ADHD aged between six and 17, and randomly assigned them to receive a daily supplement of 300 mg of [St. John's Wort]... or placebo for eight weeks... At the end of the study, the researchers reported no significant differences between the groups with respect to inattentiveness or hyperactivity."
The researchers aren't ruling out St. John's Wort completely, noting that it may be beneficial when combined with other herbs or medication. But as a stand-alone treatment it appears to be ineffective. Source: NutraUSA

Labels: alternative_medicine, herbs

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Mutated Gene Related to ADHD Medication

It was an unintentional but beneficial discovery. A team of researchers at Darby Children's Research Institute discovered a gene mutation that plays a direct role in the effectiveness of Ritalin when treating ADHD. The discovery could make it possible to pre-test patients and determine whether certain medications will work.
"Imagine the relief a patient or parent of a treated child might feel, having access to advance testing to be sure that they can adequately metabolize this medication and avoid adverse effects..."
Though the mutated gene was discovered because of its adverse effect on Ritalin, researchers believe it may affect other medications as well. Source: Medical News Today

Labels: medications, treatment, genetics

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Does Having ADHD Mean Doing Poorly in School

Most studies of students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder find that school kids with ADHD struggle in the classroom. They struggle to pay attention, finish homework on time, and get good grades. But does it have to be this way?
"In the end I think that this research points out something that many educators, doctors, and parents of ADHD/ADD children already know: We need to collaborate to find definitive strategies that will help these children be successful in school. These strategies need to be widespread, taught to teachers and parents alike."
Parents are their children's greatest advocates. As the parent of a child with ADHD child, you can be the catalyst for the collaboration that's necessary to level your child's educational playing field. Source: Brain Blogger

Cedars Academy is a private boarding school that specializes in children with ADHD.

Labels: schools, success

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Harvard Professors Studying Bipolar Disease Accepted Payments From Drug Companies

Congressional investigators revealed that three prominent Harvard University professors did not report millions of dollars paid to them by drug companies. Many of their studies concluded that children with bipolar disorder should be treated aggressively with antipsychotic drugs.

Partly because of their studies, the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder increased 40 times between 1994 and 2003. Previously, bipolar disorder, a disease characterized by mood swings of mania and depression, was believed to appear in late adolescence, not childhood. Last year, 500,000 children and teenagers took antipsychotic drugs.

Drs. Joseph Biederman, Timothy Wilens, and Thomas Spencer did not report earnings of over $4 million from drug companies such as Johnson & Johnson, according to Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who is leading the investigation. Sen. Grassley said he only had records from 2000 to 2007.

"It has really been an honor system," said Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine. Professors are supposed to report compensation, but no one really checks them.

Drug and medical device companies are the chief source of university research funding.

The use of antipsychotic drugs on children is controversial because children are more susceptible to metabolic problems that the drugs can cause. It is also unclear what the long-term effects of the drugs are because they have not been widely used in pediatric medicine.

Labels: studies, bipolar_disorder

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St. John's Wort Doesn't Help Children with Attention Deficit

St. John's Wort, an herbal remedy for depression, does not help children with Attention Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity (ADHD), according to a joint study from scientists at Harvard University, Bastyr University, and the University of Washington.

Wendy Weber, lead author, divided 54 children with ADHD into two groups. One group took St. John's Wort three times a day, and the other took a placebo. After eight weeks, the two groups showed no significant difference in their symptoms or side effects.

This study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Labels: alternative_medicine, depression, herbs

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