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Study: ADHD Drugs Raise Heart Attack Risk in Kids

July 6th 2009

Attention deficit drugs like Ritalin and Adderall can increase the risk of sudden death in children and adolescents.
By Alfi

Attention deficit drugs like Ritalin and Adderall can increase the risk of sudden death in children and adolescents, according to a new federally funded study.

Healthy children using these drugs were nearly seven times more likely to die for unexplained reasons compared to adolescents not taking the drugs, according to the study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Federal Drug Administration.

But the FDA stopped short of urging parents to keep their children off attention deficit drugs, citing limitations to the latest study. Study methods, in some cases, relied on interviews with parents and doctors several years after the child’s death, according to the Associated Press.

"Since the deaths occurred a long time ago, all of this depended on the memory of people relatives and physicians involved with the victims," said Dr. Robert Temple, the FDA's director of drug review, according to AP.

The study examined 564 healthy children and teenagers who had died inexplicably between 1985 and 1996 and 564 adolescents who had died in car accidents during the same time period.  The researchers found that amongst the first group, 10 adolescents were believed to be taking stimulants at the time of their deaths, while only two adolescents who were killed in car accidents were thought to be under the treatment of attention deficit drugs.

The FDA already urges physicians to consider family health histories when prescribing attention deficit drugs.

Roughly 2.5 million children in the United States take drugs for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with drug sales reaching $4.8 billion during 2008, according to AP.