Study: Ritalin use in childhood could cause long-lasting alterations in neurotransmission
Scientists in the Netherlands have found evidence that stimulants used in the treatment of ADHD have different effects when acting on the developing or the mature brain.
The study, published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical, was the first to investigate the effects of childhood methylphenidate treatment on brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in adult ADHD patients.
“The prevalence of ADHD has increased rapidly over the last few years,” said Michelle M. Solleveld of the University of Amsterdam, the study’s corresponding author. “With this, prescription rates of methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, are increasing as well. The safety and efficacy of methylphenidate treatment in adults has been studied thoroughly. However, methylphenidate treatment for ADHD is actually more common in children, and no studies so far have investigated the possible long-term effects of methylphenidate on the developing brain.”
“Animal studies show that when animals were treated with methylphenidate during their childhood, persisting effects in the brain remained present well into adulthood,” Solleveld told PsyPost. “This alarmed me, as this hasn’t been studied in humans, but psychiatrists are increasingly prescribing methylphenidate to children to acutely decrease their symptoms of ADHD. I, together with the rest of the research group, therefore wanted to investigate this in humans in order to gain more knowledge about these possible persisting effects.”
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