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ADHD Medications Do Not Cause Genetic Damage in Children

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Brief Description:

Two of the most common medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not appear to cause genetic damage in children who take them as prescribed.


Balintfy: A recent study provides new evidence that therapeutic doses of stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine, do not cause chromosomal damage in humans. Kristine L. Witt, a genetic toxicologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, says this is good news for parents of children with ADHD.

Witt: Our current study was able to detect no evidence of any changes in three very standard measures of chromosomal damage in children who were treated with two of the most commonly prescribed stimulant medications for treatment of ADHD.

Balintfy: A previously published paper reported methylphenidate-induced chromosomal changes in children with ADHD. That paper from 2005 raised concern for the medical community and parents, given that some of the changes have been associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Witt: The earlier reported finding of chromosomal changes associated with cancer were not replicated in our study. And in fact our results do add to what is a growing body of evidence that therapeutic levels of methylphenidate do not induce chromosomal damage in humans.

Balintfy: ADHD is a disorder characterized by attention problems, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. About 3 to 5 percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with the disorder, although several studies suggest 7 to 12 percent of children may be affected. For more information on this study and ADHD, visit This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Date: 11/21/2008

Reporter: Joe Balintfy

Sound Bite: Kristine L. Witt

Topic: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, stimulant medications


This page was last reviewed on November 21, 2008 .
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