Can ADHD Meds Boost Grades?

What the long-term data reveal may surprise you

Reported in the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323368704578593660384362292.html

In June, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study that examined ADHD medication usage over 11 years and the educational outcomes of nearly 4,000 students in Quebec. The researchers found that boys who took ADHD drugs actually performed worse in school than those with a similar number of symptoms who didn’t take meds.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The possibility that [medication] won’t help them [in school] needs to be acknowledged and needs to be closely monitored,” says economics professor Janet Currie, an author on the paper and director of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, a health policy institute at Princeton University. Kids may not get the right dose to see sustained benefits, or they may stop taking the medication because side effects or other drawbacks outweigh the benefits, she says.

A central question puzzles those researching ADHD: If its drugs demonstrably improve attention, focus and self-control, why wouldn’t grades improve as well?

The medication’s ability to improve concentration and attention may even backfire when it comes to studying.

Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania who sits on the American Academy of Neurology committee that is drafting new treatment guidelines, recalls a student saying that after she takes her medication, she heads to the library. If she keeps her head down and studies, she gets very absorbed in her work and accomplishes a tremendous amount. But if a friend stops by, she becomes equally engrossed in the chat. Many students report they find themselves absorbed in cleaning their rooms rather than studying.

The National Bureau of Economic Research is a non-profit organization without any agenda on ADHD.

Should Doctors Prescribe ADHD Drugs as Neuro-enahncements?

Paper released by: William D. Graf, M.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues, on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, Child Neurology Society, and American Neurological Association.
Full text: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/03/13/WNL.0b013e318289703b.full.pdf+html

Pediatric neuroenhancement
www.neurology.org
A statement paper advises against

Parents want the best for their children. Since ADHD stimulant meds tend to improve memory and attention in all users, some parents think giving them to a healthy child will enhance the child’s performance. Give them an edge so to speak.

William D. Graf, M.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues, on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, Child Neurology Society, and American Neurological Association, released a position paper on the implications of ADHD drug use for enhancement. They argue that the ethical, legal, and neurodevelopmental implications are far to great to prescribe ADHD drugs for neuro-enhancements.

“Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication. The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable,” Graf said in a statement. “The physician should talk to the child about the request, as it may reflect other medical, social, or psychological motivations such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia. There are alternatives to neuroenhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits, and exercise regimens.”

Full text: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/03/13/WNL.0b013e318289703b.full.pdf+html

Pediatric neuroenhancement
www.neurology.org