ADHD drug danger

About 4 million kids take prescription drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a number that keeps climbing. Now, two new studies suggest that those drugs aren't as safe as experts thought.

In one study, researchers tracked 1,357 children on the drug Strattera for 6 to 18 weeks. They reported five cases of suicidal thinking, including one suicide attempt, compared with zero cases among the 851 patients taking a placebo. As a result, the FDA directed the manufacturer to put a "black box" warning on the drug—the most serious alert. Experts believe the most worrisome periods are during the first few months of treatment and when dosage is adjusted.

In other research, an Australian review of 29 studies suggests that stimulants that are prescribed for ADHD, such as Ritalin and Dexedrine, may stunt growth in developing kids who experience nausea as a side effect. In one study of 97 boys, researchers found that those who felt queasy on the meds ended up 2.6 inches shorter, on average, than those who didn't. One possible reason: If appetite is suppressed, the resulting lack of proper nutrition and calories may affect growth.

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By A. M.

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