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ADHD Medications Do Not Cause Genetic Damage in Children

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Brief Description:

A study provides new evidence that therapeutic doses of stimulant medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), do not cause chromosomal damage in humans.


Balintfy: With funding through the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act by two NIH institutes, a study has safety indications for common drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.

Mattison: Continuing use of these drugs as prescribed is safe in terms of genetic damage.

Balintfy: Dr. Donald Mattison, is senior advisor to the director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Mattison: Which I think gives parents and practitioners substantial comfort that the drug that they’re using for treating ADHD is extremely unlikely to produce genetic alterations in their children.

Balintfy: The drugs studied were stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine. Dr. Mattison comments, that there are still some questions about how these drugs treat ADHD.

Mattison: But it seems to work by stimulating the executive areas of the brains so the kind of things a child might do on impulse, are less likely to occur.

Balintfy: This current study was designed to determine if findings from a previously published paper that reported drug-induced chromosomal changes in children with ADHD, could be reproduced. The current study was not able to replicate those earlier findings. Dr. Mattison says these results add to a growing body of evidence that therapeutic levels of these medications do not damage chromosomes. For parents he still offers this reminder:

Mattison: It’s always important to watch for something that’s unusual or unexpected while your children are being treated with a drug, any drug, and to keep in close contact with the pediatrician or health care provider that’s involved in prescribing medications for your children.

Balintfy: Funding for the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act comes from 17 different institutes and centers at the NIH. For more on the results of this study and ADHD, visit This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Date: 11/28/2008

Reporter: Joe Balintfy

Sound Bite: Dr. Donald R. Mattison, senior advisor

Topic: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, stimulant medications


This page was last reviewed on December 1, 2008 .
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