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Study: Calls to poison centers in child ADHD drug cases up 64 percent

By Sommer Brokaw
Study: Calls to poison centers in child ADHD drug cases up 64 percent
A new study shows calls to U.S. poison control centers for child and adolescent exposure to ADHD drugs like Ritalin, pictured, rose 64 percent from 2000 to 2014. File Photo by Sponge/Wikimedia Commons

May 21 (UPI) -- Child exposure to ADHD drugs is increasing in the United States -- marked by a jump of more than 60 percent over a 14-year period, a new study showed Monday.

The study in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at calls to U.S. poison control centers to see if ADHD exposures were on the rise. The answer was yes.

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The study found more than 156,000 calls for unintentional and intentional exposures of the drugs to U.S. children and adolescents between 2000 and 2014 -- an increase of 64 percent.

The report said exposures increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2011, and decreased 6 percent from 2011 to 2014. More than three quarters involved children under 12.

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"[ADHD] is the most commonly diagnosed neurobehaviorial disorder in children," said Dr. Gary Smith of the Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Almost 70 percent of children with ADHD are taking medication and the number of children taking ADHD medications is increasing in this country."

The study found the most common reason for exposure was therapeutic error, at about 42 percent. Intentional exposures, including suicide and drug abuse, accounted for half for those aged 13-19.

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The majority, 60 percent, did not seek treatment. Six percent were hospitalized and three died.

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"Exposures associated with suspected suicide or medication abuse and misuse among adolescents are of particular concern," the study said.

"Unintentional and intentional pediatric exposures to ADHD medications are an increasing problem in the United States, affecting children of all ages."

The study came one day after National Rifle Association President Oliver North told "Fox News Sunday" the drug Ritalin, often used to treat ADHD, could be partly responsible for recent school shootings.

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