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Children Who Get ADHD Drugs Score Higher on Tests

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

New research out shows that children given medication to treat attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder symptoms score higher on math and reading tests than children with the condition who do not get medications.

The study tracked nearly 600 children diagnosed with ADHD from kindergarten through fifth grade. It found the 60 percent who where given prescribed drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall performed better on standardized tests than peers with ADHD who were not given medication. But the scores of children treated with drugs for ADHD still lagged children not diagnosed with the condition. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

“We’re not promoting drugs as the answer. But we did find medication does improve standardized math and reading scores in the long term,” said Richard Scheffler of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the researchers.

“Our study found that the children with ADHD who used the medication were several months ahead of their nonmedicated peers in reading and math, which is significant because early progress in school is critical to ongoing academic success,” Scheffler said.

Scheffler said children with ADHD who are left untreated do poorly in school, with higher dropout rates and more substance abuse, arrests and social isolation.

“They’re labeled as bad kids,” he said. “Drugs are part of the answer. But we need parent involvement understanding what this is and how to work with the kids. We need the school to be involved. We also think that special services like tutoring need to be made available.”

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