ADHD News & Research

ADHD Medication Use Linked to Fewer Accidents Among Youth

ADHD medication is associated with a lower risk of unintentional injuries, according to new research involving nearly 2 million boys and girls across the country.

September 9, 2019

ADHD medication use is connected to fewer instances of accidental injury among children and teenagers, irrespective of age and sex, according to a new study1 recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Researchers arrived at their findings by analyzing years of prescription claims data from a health database for more than 1.9 million individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) and/or receiving ADHD medications in the United States. They also tracked ADHD prescription refills per month, and looked at emergency department visits, or “events” for injuries with unintentional causes, including traumatic brain injuries, during the same period. Data was then compared at the population and individual level, keeping medicated and unmedicated months in mind.

Among the study’s participants, roughly 87,000 had at least one emergency department visit for an accidental injury. But in performing a population-level analysis, researchers found that ADHD medication use was linked to a lower risk for an ER visit in boys and girls with ADHD — 37.90 fewer events per 100,000  person-months in boys and 25.15 fewer events per 100,000 person-months in girls. Tests at the individual level revealed similar results, with 73.29 fewer events per 100,000 person-months observed in boys and 56.11 fewer events per 100,000 person-months in girls.

ER visits for unintended, traumatic brain injuries followed a similar pattern. Boys taking ADHD medication had 4.24 fewer events per 100,000 person-months, while girls taking ADHD medication had 1.87 fewer events per 100,000 person-months at the population-level scale. On an individual basis, boys saw 10.47 fewer events per 100,000 person-months, with girls experiencing 6.87 fewer events per 100,000 person-months while taking ADHD medication.

The researchers did note that the findings may be limited in their lack of ADHD specificity, as the study used data from a large sample of commercially insured people in the United States. The data also may not reflect less severe incidents, as only injuries that led to emergency room visits were considered in the study.

1 Ghirardi, L., Larsson, H., Chang, Z., et al. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Medication and Unintentional Injuries in Children and Adolescents.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (July 2019). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2019.06.010

Updated on September 9, 2019

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