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Kids with ADHD on Meds Test Better than Peers

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Associated Press: Children on medicine for attention deficit disorder scored higher on academic tests than their unmedicated peers in the first large, long-term study suggesting this kind of benefit from the widely used drugs.

The nationally representative study involved nearly 600 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder followed from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Children's scores on several standardized math and reading tests taken during those years were examined. Compared with unmedicated kids, average scores for medicated children were almost three points higher in math and more than five points higher in reading. The difference amounts to about three months ahead in reading and two months in math, the researchers said.

Both groups had lower scores on average than a separate group of children without ADHD. The researchers acknowledged that gap but said the benefits for medicated youngsters were still notable.

"We're not trying to say in this study that medication is the only answer," but the results suggest benefits that parents, educators and policy-makers shouldn't ignore, said Richard Scheffler, the lead author and professor at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health.

The researchers agreed that other treatment ADHD children often receive -- including behavior therapy and tutoring -- can help, but the study didn't look at those measures.

Most ADHD drug users in the study were on stimulants; the study didn't identify which ones.

About 4 million U.S. children have been diagnosed with ADHD. About half of them take prescription medication -- often powerful stimulants like Ritalin -- to control the extreme fidgetiness and impulsive behavior that characterize the condition.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
BecauseIJustDid April 27, 2009, 7:16 PM

This is why I am glad my parents were more worried about our health and mental well being than raising us as test takers. Proud to be a homeschooling parent too! No teaching to the test in this household and def. no drug pushing!

Drugs are not the answer.

Heather, MI April 27, 2009, 7:32 PM

I’ll be able to confirm the results of this study for myself in a couple of years when my daughters takes the standardized tests. She is a first grader who was diagnosed with ADHD the summer before kindergarten. We were very leery of medication but decided to try it short-term after a second specialist and family/friends who’d been in our shoes recommended it. It has made a huge difference for our daughter—and for our family in general. Not that all of the struggles have been eliminated but at least they are not quite as frequent or severe. As my daughter gets older and can self-direct more and more hopefully she will be able to stop taking the medication—my husband was able to as a young adult—but for now I am glad that it is available to and helping her. Without the medication I know that school would be a horrible struggle for her and she woud lose the enthusiasm she still has for it.

theresa April 27, 2009, 8:33 PM

Ii have two kids who are ADHD/co-existing disorders. Medication plus counseling will be most beneficial for these kids. I have one in third and one in fourth. being on medication have improved their scores in both math and reading and has helped them with concentration and focus.

obd ii scanner December 27, 2010, 1:14 AM

I really like this site and Kids with ADHD on Meds Test Better than Peers | . I read about you on another site I found on Yahoo and thought they had great views as well.

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