ADHD Medications Reduce Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zheng Chang PhD MSc
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB)
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: About 1.25 million people worldwide die annually because of motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). ADHD is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder with symptoms that include poor sustained attention, impaired impulse control and hyperactivity. ADHD affects 5 percent to 7 percent of children and adolescent and for many people it persists into adulthood. Prior studies have suggested people with ADHD are more likely to experience MVCs. Pharmacotherapy is a first-line treatment for the condition and rates of ADHD medication prescribing have increased over the last decade in the United States and in other countries.

Among the more than 2.3 million patients with ADHD (average age 32.5), we found patients with ADHD had a higher risk of an MVC than a control group of people without ADHD. The use of medication in patients with ADHD was associated with reduced risk for motor vehicle crashes in both male and female patients.

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ADHD Less Common in Girls, But Has More Serious Consequences

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Jill Pell MD Director of Institute (Institute of Health and Wellbeing) Associate (School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing) University of Glasgow

Prof. Pell

Professor Jill Pell MD
Director of Institute (Institute of Health and Wellbeing)
Associate (School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing)
University of Glasgow

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The novelty of our study lies in its scale and scope. In terms of scope, it reported on six educational outcomes and three health outcomes in the same group of children.

In terms of scale, it is the first study of a whole country to compare educational outcomes of children with treated ADHD with their unaffected peers and is more than 20 times larger than previous studies on similar educational outcomes. The only previous countrywide study on health outcomes, included only children with very severe ADHD who were in psychiatric hospitals.

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Study Finds No Link To Autism, ADHD In Offspring From Antidepressant Use In Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program Women’s Mental Health Program Women’s College Hospital Toronto, ON

Dr. Vigod

Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Psychiatrist and Lead, Reproductive Life Stages Program
Women’s Mental Health Program
Women’s College Hospital
Toronto, ON

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Depression is one of the most common problems that can complicate a pregnancy. Untreated, or incompletely treated, it can be associated with significant harm to mother and child. While psychotherapies alone may be effective for women with mild (or even moderate) severity symptoms, sometimes antidepressant medication is required. In these cases, the benefits of treatment must be weighed against potential risks. Previous research suggested that there may be an increased risk for autism in children exposed to antidepressant medication during pregnancy. However, previous studies were limited in their ability to account for other potential causes of autism in their analyses. In our study, we used several different strategies to try to compare children whose pregnancy exposures were very similar, except for exposure to an antidepressant.

The main finding was that after using these strategies, there was no longer a statistically significant association between in-utero antidepressant exposure and autism.

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Subtle Differences in Brain Volume Detected On MRI In ADHD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
M. (Martine) Hoogman PhD.

Postdoc and PI of ENIGMA-ADHD
Radboud universitair medisch centrum
Department of Human Genetics
Nijmegen, The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many neuro-imaging studies aimed at investigating structural brain changes related to ADHD, but the results are often inconclusive.

There are two main reasons for this:

1) the small sample size of the studies and
2) the heterogeneous methods used.

We tried to address these issues by forming an international collaboration to provide a sample size sufficient to detect even small effects in volume differences. And in addition, we analyzed all the raw scans again using homogenized methods. There are data of more than 1700 patients (aged 4-63 years of age) and more than 1500 healthy controls in our dataset, coming from 23 sites around the world. We studied the possible volume differences between cases and controls of 7 subcortical regions and intracranial volume by performing mega- and meta-analysis.

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More Medical Students May Have Non-Apparent Disabilities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:  

Lisa Meeks , PhD
Director, Medical Student Disability
UCSF Medical Center

Lisa Meeks , PhD Director, Medical Student Disability UCSF Medical Center

Dr. Lisa Meeks

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This was the first study to include students with AD/HD, learning, psychological, and chronic health conditions. This study found that the prevalence of students with disabilities is up to four times higher than previous studies indicated.

AD/HD, learning, and psychological disabilities were the most prevalent, suggesting that most students with disabilities in medicine have non-apparent disabilities. Within MD granting programs, the number of students self-reporting disability varied between 0% and 12%. Explanations for the high variability between programs are unknown, however, anecdotal reports suggest the degree to which programs have dedicated resources and inclusive practices for students with disabilities influence student disclosure.

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Specific Genetic Mutations Present in Many Children With ADHD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Josephine Elia, M.D.

Neuroscience Center
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Glutamate neurotransmission may play an important role in ADHD and other neuropsychiatric disorders. The purpose of this study is to determine the frequency of genetic mutations involving specific genes (GRM network genes) which influence glutamatergic neurotransmission. A total of 23 study sites across the USA enrolled 1,013 children, aged 6-17 years who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD. Saliva samples were submitted to The Center for Applied Genomics (CAG) at CHOP for analysis of mutations of interest. Information on medical history, including other neuropsychiatric diagnoses and family history as well as areas of academic and social concern were also collected.

Overall, the mutation frequency was 22%, with a higher prevalence of 25% observed in patients aged 6-12. When compared to mutation negative ADHD patients, the patients with the mutations of interest were more likely to have concerns about anger control and disruptive behaviors.

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Treating ADHD Reduces Risk of Injuries, STDs and Substance Abuse

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anna Chorniy PhD Postdoctoral Research Associate Center for Health and Wellbeing 321 Wallace Hall, Princeton University Princeton NJ 08544

Dr. Chorniy

Anna Chorniy PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Center for Health and Wellbeing
Princeton University
Princeton NJ 08544

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the common chronic mental conditions affecting children. In the U.S., 11% of children ages 4–17 (6.4 million) are estimated to have an ADHD diagnosis and almost 70% of them report taking medication for the condition (e.g. Visser et al., 2014). However, little evidence exists on the effects of ADHD treatment on children’s outcomes.
We use a panel data set of South Carolina Medicaid claims paid out in 2003–2013 to investigate the effects of ADHD medication treatment on a seldom studied set of outcomes associated with this condition: adolescent risky behaviors and the incidence of injuries.

The occurrence of injuries allows us to evaluate short-term effects of ADHD treatment, while substance abuse and risky sexual behavior outcomes speak for the long-term effects of medication. Second, we use Medicaid spending on treatment of these negative events to evaluate the impact of ADHD drugs on the severity of ADHD, and compare the cost of ADHD treatment with the costs of negative health events. Continue reading

ADHD Does Not Always Begin in Childhood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Luis Augusto Rohde MD, PhD Full Professor Department of Psychiatry Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Director ADHD Program Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre

Prof. Luis. Rohde

Luis Augusto Rohde MD, PhD
Full Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
Director
ADHD Program
Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The idea that Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder always begins in childhood has been held for decades even without proper testing. The main manuals of psychiatric diagnoses require age at onset in childhood as a core feature of the disorder. In a large birth cohort followed until age 18, we identified many young adults presenting with a full impairing ADHD syndrome. They had consistently worse outcomes – criminality, substance abuse, traffic accidents, among others – than their counterparts without ADHD. However, most of these young adults (84.6%) presenting with a full impairing syndrome did not have a prior diagnosis in their childhood years. This surprising observation held after many secondary analyses exploring possible biases, like comorbidities in young adulthood, subthreshold ADHD in childhood and change of information source.

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Dasotraline Explored For Treatment of ADHD and Binge Eating Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kenneth Koblan PhD Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. Fort Lee, NJ and Marlborough, MA

Dr. Kenneth Koblan

Dr. Kenneth Koblan PhD
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Fort Lee, NJ and Marlborough, MA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Koblan: Assessing abuse potential is important in the clinical development process for any therapy affecting the central nervous system, especially those that may act on dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter systems. Human abuse liability studies are conducted to evaluate the abuse potential associated with drugs that affect the central nervous system.

Drugs that increase dopamine levels may be associated with stimulant effects and abuse (e.g., cocaine and amphetamine), whereas drugs that increase serotonin and/or norepinephrine levels are not generally associated with recreational abuse (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Among drugs with effects on dopamine neurotransmission, slowing the rate of absorption is thought to reduce abuse potential, and increasing the rate of elimination is thought to reduce rewarding effects and abuse liability due to sustained elevations in drug concentrations resulting in sustained inhibition of dopamine transporters (DAT).

Dasotraline is an investigational dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor from Sunovion in late-stage development to evaluate its use in treating the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and binge-eating disorder (BED). Dasotraline has slow absorption and elimination that supports the potential for plasma concentrations yielding a continuous therapeutic effect over the 24-hour dosing interval at steady state.

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Cochrane Analysis Reviews Studies of Ritalin For ADHD

Dr. Ole Jakob Storebø Region Zealand, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Department, Roskilde Region Zealand Psychiatry, Psychiatric Research Unit, Slagelse University of Southern Denmark, Department of Psychology Faculty of Health Science, Odense Denmark

Dr. Storebø

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ole Jakob Storebø
Region Zealand, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Department, Roskilde
Region Zealand Psychiatry
Psychiatric Research Unit, Slagelse
University of Southern Denmark
Department of Psychology
Faculty of Health Science,
Odense Denmark

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Storebø: Despite widespread use of methylphenidate for the treatment of children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a comprehensive systematic review of its benefits and harms has not yet been conducted. Over the past 15 years, several reviews investigating the efficacy of methylphenidate for ADHD (with or without meta-analyses) have been published. Each of these reviews, however, has several shortcomings and these are described in detail in the review. The most important concerns are that none of these reviews are based on a pre-published protocol, and most assessed neither the risk of bias (systematic errors) of included trials nor adverse events. Moreover, none of these reviews considered the risk of random errors. Therefore, their interpretation of findings is unlikely to have taken into account the poor reporting of adverse events, the impact of combining data from small trial samples, or the impact of risk of bias on their analyses; information about adverse events is also missing from several RCTs. Because of this it is our opinion that these previous reviews might have overestimated the true treatment effect.

We found that Methylphenidate may improve ADHD symptoms, general behaviour and quality of life in children and adolescents aged 18 years and younger with ADHD. We rated the evidence to be of very low quality and, as a result, we cannot be certain about the magnitude of the effects from the meta-analyses. The evidence is limited by serious risk of bias in the included trials, under-reporting of relevant outcome data, and a high level of statistical variation between the results. We found no evidence for serious adverse events, but a lot of non-serious adverse events. Most of these are well known but the number of adverse events might even be higher than the number we found due to underreporting of adverse events. We know very little about the long term effects or harms as most of the trials in our review did not measure outcomes beyond 6 months. The risk of rare, serious adverse events seem low over the short duration of follow-up of the trials that reported on harms, but in general there was inadequate reporting of adverse events in many trials.

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Brain Circuits Limit Our Ability To Multitask

Michael M. Halassa, MD, PhD, Assistant professor Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Physiology The Neuroscience Institute Depts. of Psychitatry Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016

Dr. Michael Halassa

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael M. Halassa, MD, PhD, Assistant professor

Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Physiology
The Neuroscience Institute Depts. of Psychitatry
Langone Medical Center
New York, NY 10016

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Halassa:  Attention is a vital aspect of our daily life and our minds are not merely a reflection of the outside world, but rather a result of careful selection of inputs that are relevant. In fact, if we indiscriminately open up our senses to what’s out there, we would be totally overwhelmed. Selecting relevant inputs and suppressing distractors is what we call attention, and as humans we are able to attend in a highly intentional manner. Meaning, we choose what to pay attention to, and we do so based on context. If you’re driving and getting directions from your GPS, you’ll be intentionally splitting your attention between your vision and hearing. Now, in one context, you might have just updated the GPS software, so you know it’s reliable; this would allow you to intentionally pay attention more to the voice coming from the GPS. In another context, the GPS software may be outdated making voice instructions unreliable. This context would prompt you to direct your attention more towards using visual navigation cues and less to the GPS voice. How the brain intentionally and dynamically directs attention based context is unknown.

The main strength of our study is that we were able to study context-dependent attention in mice. Mice are unique models because they provide genetic tools to study brain circuits. Meaning, we can turn circuits on and off very precisely in the mouse, and in a way we cannot do in other experimental animals. The inability to do these types of manipulations has been the major roadblock for progress in understanding what brain circuits mediate attention and its intentional allocation.

Because we couldn’t train mice to drive and listen to the GPS, we decided to do something much simpler. Based on context (the type of background noise in the experimental enclosure), a mouse had to select between conflicting visual and auditory stimuli in order to retrieve a milk reward. Mice love milk; it turns out, and will work tirelessly to do well on getting it. Each trial, the mouse is told ‘you need to pick the light flash’ or ‘you need to pick the auditory sweep’; these stimuli appeared on either side of the mouse randomly so the animal really had to pay attention in order to get its reward. It also had to take the context into account. We found that mice did this task, and as humans would do, they were reliant on the prefrontal cortex for determining the appropriate context. The major finding was that the prefrontal cortex changed the sensitivity of the brain to incoming stimuli (meaning, made the visual stimulus brighter when the mouse cared about vision and made the auditory stimulus louder when the mouse cared about hearing), by influencing activity in the thalamus. The thalamus is the major early relay station in the brain. The prefrontal cortex does that by instructing the brain’s switchboard, known as the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) to control how much visual or auditory information the thalamus was letting through. So in a sense, we discovered that executive function, represented by the prefrontal cortex, can talk to ‘attentional filters’ in the thalamus to determine what ultimately is selected from the outside environment to build our internal world.
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Working Memory Problems Can Persist Into Adulthood in Children with ADHD

Dr. Graham Murray PhD University Lecturer Department of Psychiatry Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Graham Murray PhD
University Lecturer
Department of Psychiatry
Addenbrooke’s Hospital
Cambridge UK

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Murray: There is debate about the extent to which ADHD persists into adulthood, with estimates suggesting that between 10-50% of children still have ADHD in adulthood. Diagnosis (whether in childhood or adulthood) is currently reliant on meeting symptom checklists (such as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), and a current diagnosis is often the prerequisite to access health care from psychiatric services. We decided to follow up a sample of 49 teens who all had a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD at age 16. We also followed a control group made up of comparison healthy volunteers from the same social, ethnic and geographical background.

When we used the symptom checklist criteria of persistence, only 10% of patients still met ADHD diagnostic criteria in adulthood. However, there is more to ADHD than this. When it comes to adult brain structure and function, it didn’t make any difference whether symptom checklists were still met or not. On reaching adulthood, the adolescent ADHD group show reduced brain volume in the caudate nucleus – a key brain region that supports a host of cognitive functions, including working memory function. When we assessed working memory ability, we noted persistent problems in the adolescent ADHD group, with a third of the adolescent ADHD sample failing the memory test. The poor memory scores seemed to relate to a lack of responsiveness in the activity of the caudate nucleus that we could detect using functional MRI scans. In the control group, when the memory questions became more difficult, the caudate nucleus became more active, and this appeared to help the control group perform well; in the adolescent ADHD group, the caudate nucleus kept the same level of activity throughout the test. It was as if, for the controls, when the test got harder, the caudate nucleus went up a gear in its activity, and this is likely to have helped solve the memory problems. But for the adolescence ADHD group, the caudate couldn’t go up a gear when the test became harder, and this likely resulted in poorer performance.  Continue reading