Rx May Keep Kids With ADHD Safe

Methylphenidate for ADHD may reduce rates of emergency room visits for trauma among kids

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A common medication for ADHD may keep kids out of the emergency room.

A new study found that methylphenidate may lower the number of children going to the emergency room due to ADHD-related trauma. Methylphenidate is also known by the brand names Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin, and Quillivant XR.

“It is well recognized that patients with ADHD are prone to accidents and are more likely to visit the emergency department,” wrote the authors of this study, led by Kenneth K.C. Man, MPH, of the Centre for Safe Medication Practice and Research in Hong Kong.

That's because ADHD patients may have trouble planning ahead, thinking about the consequences of actions and knowing when not to do something risky, these researchers said.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that commonly occurs among school-aged kids and teens. Symptoms include frequent and disruptive hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness. ADHD could have a negative effect on both social relationships and school performance for kids.

David C. Schwebel, PhD, director of the University of Alabama’s Youth Safety Laboratory in Birmingham, told dailyRx News that “Children with ADHD are poor at those skills, and that combination of things is leading them to take risks and behave impulsively, which leads to getting hurt.”

Dr. Schwebel has authored past studies on ADHD in children. He was not involved with the current study, however.

Methylphenidate may reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms, allowing kids to be calm and think before they act. This could prevent injury, Dr. Man and team said.

For this study, Dr. Man and team gathered data from an electronic health records database. This database was created by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, which is a legal group in charge of all public hospital and clinic records in Hong Kong.

This record system showed a total of 17,381 patients, ranging from 6 to 19 years old, who took methylphenidate between 2001 and 2013. Out of that total, 4,934 had at least one ADHD-related trauma case that ended with a visit to the ER. Trauma is a physical injury.

The patients who took methylphenidate had about a 9 percent lower rate of injury than patients who didn't take the medication.

After adjusting for factors like other medications the patients took, Dr. Man and team maintained that methylphenidate was likely responsible for keeping many kids with ADHD out of the ER for traumatic injuries.

This study was published online Dec. 15 in Pediatrics.

Study authors Drs. Esther W. Chan, David Coghill, Ian Douglas, and Wilfred H.S. Wong received grants from Janssen (a division of Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies. The other study authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 15, 2014
Last Updated:
December 20, 2014