Time for a New Approach?
Although Ritalin has been a mainstay in the day-to-day treatment of ADHD symptoms, much debate continues whether the drug provides long-term benefits for children.
A new study suggests that long-term drug Ritalin makes no difference to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).Â According to Sydney Morning Herald, a research team at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has found that ADHD children who are treated with Ritalin continue to struggle mentally and academically as they get older.
For three years, the research team has been following 212 children without ADHD and 178 children with ADHD. The aim of the study is to identify the factors that make a difference to the development of children with ADHD.
According to Ten Eyewitness News, the Children's Attention Project funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council has found that by the age of seven, children with ADHD show severe mental, social and academic differences compared with their peers. Preliminary findings suggest that these disparities persist three years after the start of the research.
Four times as many ADHD children aged 10 years old suffer from mental health problems such as oppositional disorder and anxiety. Children with ADHD are also well behind their peers in their reading and mathematical abilities. The study did not find differences in outcomes between girls and boys.
One of the chief investigators of the project, pediatrician Daryl Efron, said that all of the children with ADHD continued to be at risk of mental health and academic problems at 10 years old, just like when they were seven years old. At age 10, those children in the study under Ritalin medication for ADHD were not doing better than their peers not taking the medication. This suggests that Ritalin medication doesn't improve the long-term outcomes of children with ADHD.
Dr. Efron cautioned that drugs like Ritalin can be very effective in reducing the day-to-day symptoms of ADHD, helping children to be calmer and more focused. However, the treatment options for ADHD haven't progressed very much beyond treating day-to-day symptoms. Medical researchers need to find a better approach to ADHD in the future to make a real long-term difference.