Tags: Osteoporosis | ADHD | Ritalin | medications | decrease | bone | density

ADHD Meds Decrease Bone Density

Image: ADHD Meds Decrease Bone Density
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By    |   Thursday, 03 Mar 2016 12:28 PM



Children and adolescents who take medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have decreased bone density, according to a new study.

The study examined 5,315 pediatric patients and compared children who took ADHD medications with children who did not take them. They found that children on ADHD medication had lower bone mineral density in the femur, femoral neck, and lumbar spine (lower back).

Approximately 25 percent of survey participants who took ADHD medications met criteria for osteopenia, a condition characterized by lower than normal peak bone density, a percentage that was significantly higher compared to participants not on medication.

"This is an important step in understanding a medication class, that is used with increasing frequency, and its effect on children who are at a critical time for building their bones," said senior study author Jessica Rivera, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue to adulthood. Symptoms include hyperactivity and difficulty focusing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.5 million children and teenagers take prescription drugs to treat ADHD.

Although a definite link has not been established between low bone density in childhood and osteoporosis later in life, low bone density in children could have long-term implications and lead to poor bone health in adulthood, which increases the risk of fractures.

Medications used by patients in the study were: methylphenidate (Ritalin), dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), atomoxetine (Strattera) and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse).

The lower bone density seen in patients taking ADHD medications could be a result of the drugs' side effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, which may result in poor nutrition and reduced calcium intake, which would affect bone density. The drugs may also reduce bone density by altering bone remodeling, the process where old bone tissue is removed from the skeleton and new bone tissue is created.

Since most skeletal growth occurs by the age of 20, Dr. Rivera said doctors should be aware of the threat ADHD drugs may have on maturing bones and consider nutritional counseling and other preventive measures.


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Children and adolescents who take medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have decreased bone density, according to a new study. The study examined 5,315 pediatric patients and compared children who took ADHD medications with children who did not take...
ADHD, Ritalin, medications, decrease, bone, density
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2016-28-03
Thursday, 03 Mar 2016 12:28 PM
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