Magazine article Science News

Teens' ADHD Treatment Gets Low-Dose Boost

Magazine article Science News

Teens' ADHD Treatment Gets Low-Dose Boost

Article excerpt

Most children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) still exhibit the condition's symptoms as adolescents and continue to take large, daily doses of prescribed stimulants. Teenagers with ADHD improve their schoolwork and behave better in class when given a low dose of medication combined with behavioral training, a new study finds.

The investigation, published in the May EXPERIMENTAL AND CLINICAL PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, represents a rare attempt to track classroom learning in teens receiving ADHD treatment.

"For students who completed a behavioral-treatment program, those taking low doses of stimulant medication were more likely to get schoolwork done and to do it more accurately than when they were taking a placebo pill," says psychologist Steven W. Evans of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Individual responses to different stimulant doses varied greatly, Evans notes. However, academic performance most often declined among students taking a high dose of the medication.

Nevertheless, by the end of the 2-month program, average improvement on history quizzes and writing assignments corresponded to a grade change from failing to a C.

Evans' team studied 40 boys and 5 girls with ADHD, ages 13 and 14, who attended a summer program 4 days a week at the University of Pittsburgh. On each day during the program's last 6 weeks, students received either a placebo or a 10-, 20-, or 30-milligram dose of the stimulant known as Ritalin. …

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