In the largest study of its kind researchers at Aarhus University (Denmark), Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research (Denmark), and Hospital of Telemark (Norway) examined 850,000 children and the use of psychiatric medication to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
The scientist found that the use of medication to treat children and adolescents had increased five fold. They found that 61% of children with ADHD, 16% of children with ASD, and 3% of those with other psychiatric disorders were treated with one or more medications typically prescribed for ADHD—methylphenidate, dexamphetamine, and atomoxetine. The data indicated significant increases in the prescription rates of these medications during the years 2003 to 2010.
“This study utilizes a population-based national cohort of children and adolescents, and assesses stimulant treatment in children and adolescents with ASD,” says Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of JCAP, and President, Child Mind Institute, New York, NY. “This is the largest and first prospective study to quantify the change in the use of treatment with ADHD medications over time.”
The study did not examine the cause of the diagnosis in 850,000 children; however, the incidents of ADHD (attention deficit disorder) in children diagnosed with the behavioral conduct disorder in the United States are once again increasing. A new study, published in the August issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, suggests that ADHD is linked with allergies and asthma, which may be the underlying cause of the conduct disorder.
“ADHD, a chronic mental health disorder, is most commonly found in males, while asthma is also more common in young boys than girls,” said Eelko Hak, lead study author. “We found there is an increased risk of ADHD in boys with a history of asthma and an even stronger risk associated with milk intolerance.”
The study group consisted of 884 boys with ADHD and 3,536 boys without the disorder. Of the children with ADHD, 34 percent had asthma and 35 percent had an allergic disorder. The study suggests medications used to treat these conditions may be associated with an increased ADHD risk.
“Further research is needed to understand why there appears to be an increased risk of developing ADHD in children with allergy and asthma,” said Gailen Marshall, MD, editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
There is a genetic trend with allergy and asthma often occurring in families. If both parents have an allergy a child has a 75 percent chance of being allergic. If neither parent has allergy, the chance of a child developing an allergy is only 10 to 15 percent. Allergists also know allergies and asthma are linked. An estimated 60 to 80 percent of children with asthma also have an allergy.
Eelko Hak, Tjalling W. de Vries, Pieter J. Hoekstra, Susan S. Jick. Association of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with atopic diseases and skin infections? A matched case-control study using the General Practice Research Database. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2013; 111 (2): 102 DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.05.023
Søren Dalsgaard, Helena Skyt Nielsen, Marianne Simonsen. Five-Fold Increase in National Prevalence Rates of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Medications for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and other Psychiatric Disorders: A Danish Registe. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 2013; : 130909061602008 DOI: 10.1089/cap.2012.0111