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ADHD medication increases broken bones risk

Friday 4th March 2016
Children taking ADHD medication may be more likely to suffer broken bones, according to new research.
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Radiographers may need to take into account whether or not a patient suffers with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when looking at X-rays, following the publication of new research.

According to a study presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, some of the medications prescribed to children with ADHD are having an adverse impact on their bone density, meaning their risk of suffering broken bones is increasing. As a result, they might also be more likely to develop osteoporosis in later life.

The investigation involved 5,315 children with the disorder, who were monitored by doctors to find out how strong their bones were and whether or not they were developing normally.

It was found that young people taking drugs such as Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, Strattera and Vyvanse to bring their ADHD under control had a much lower bone density than that expected for their age. This was particularly the case in the femoral neck, femur and lumbar spine.

Overall, when compared to individuals who were not on any medication, 25 per cent of the participants who were taking ADHD drugs showed signs of osteopenia, which is a condition involving lower than average bone density, putting sufferers at increased risk of experiencing bone fractures and breaks.

Dr Jessica Rivera, lead author of the study and an orthopaedic surgeon at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, commented: "This is an important step in understanding a medication class that is used with increasing frequency, and its effect on children who are at a critical time for building their bones."

She added that as the skeleton tends to continue growing until a person reaches the age of 20, doctors should recommend alternative treatment methods such as counselling, a change in diet and any medications that are known to have no adverse effect on bone density.

Written by Megan Smith

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