Sudden Death and Use of Stimulant Medications in Youths

The above is from the title of an article published in the June 15, 2009 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry. The study was also reported on in the June 19, 2009 issue of Medical News Today and on June 15, 2009, on WebMD. The results of this study suggest that children and teens who take stimulants like Ritalin for ADHD have a 4 time greater risk of sudden cardiac death.

The study compared sudden cardiac deaths in hundreds of children to the same number of children who had died in auto accidents and then looked at the percentage of those using stimulant medications. The results showed a 4 fold higher rate of sudden death for those taking the stimulant medication.

The study was initiated by the US Food and Drug Administration who asked a researcher, Dr. Gould, a professor of clinical epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, to investigate the safety of ADHD drugs after a handful of deaths were reported in children, starting in the 1990s. This study represents the first rigorous attempt to figure out whether there’s a real risk.

The New York Daily News also carried the story on June 18th 2009, but added the perspective of Dr. Gerry Clum, a chiropractor and president of Life Chiropractic College West in California. Dr. Clum commented that many young people with ADHD can benefit from chiropractic care. He stated, “A number of case reports have been published with chiropractic care and there has been a positive resolution in the severity of symptoms.”

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