Children with ADHD who start taking ADHD medications later have lower math scores, compared to their counterparts who took medications earlier, researchers from the USA and Iceland reported in the journal Pediatrics. Those taking their meds within 12 months of their fourth-grade test dropped 0.3% in their seventh grade tests math scores, compared to 9.4% among those taking similar meds 25 to 36 months after the same test.

The team set out to determine whether a later start of stimulant treatment of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) might undermine academic progress in language arts and math among children aged 9 to 12 years.

The researchers gathered data from the Icelandic Medicines Registry and linked them to the Database of National Scholastic Examinations (Iceland). Data involved a total of 11,872 kids born in 1994-1996. They had all taken standardized academic tests in fourth and seventh grades.

The authors calculated the probability of academic decline – a fall of at least 5% – according to commencement of ADHD medications, and timing of treatment start between tests.

The investigators found that:

  • Children with diagnosed ADHD were significantly more likely to have falling performance from the first to second test, compared to other kids
  • Those starting treatment 25 to 36 months after their fourth-grade test were much more likely to experience decline in their seventh grade test, compared to children who started treatment up to 12 months after their fourth grade test
  • The largest difference was seen in math scores. A 9.4% decline among the later treatment kids compared to a 0.3% decline among those receiving treatment within 12 months of their fourth grade test (both groups of kids had ADHD)
  • There was a greater effect in schoolgirls than schoolboys among those who did not do well in their fourth grade test

In an Abstract in the same journal, the authors concluded:

“(among 9 to 12 year olds) Later start of stimulant drug treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is associated with academic decline in mathematics.”

According to psychologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is the most common behavioral disorder with an onset during childhood. ADHD can, however, affect people of all ages. Experts say that ADHD is a neurobehavioral development disorder.

A person with ADHD has difficulty in focusing on something without being distracted. They may also find it hard to control what they do or say. Controlling how much physical activity is right for a particular situation tends to be harder for somebody with ADHD, compared to other individuals.

Put simply – a child (or adult) with ADHD is more restless and impulsive.

Normal childhood boisterous behavior and excitement has nothing to do with ADHD. A child may be inattentive and restless without necessarily having ADHD.

Some of the ADHD signs may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Overactivity
  • The child is fidgety
  • The child tends to interrupt other people, sometimes continuously
  • The child is unable to concentrate on specific tasks for long
  • The child does not pay attention
  • The child has problems waiting for his/her turn in class, at home, or in the outside world

Most children without ADHD have some of the above-mentioned signs. It is only when they become considerably more pronounced, compared to other children, that there may be a possibility that the child is affected by ADHD.

Inattention in class may not necessarily mean a child has ADHD

Doctors tend to prescribe stimulants more commonly, but antidepressants and/or hypertension medications may also help. Below is a list of the most commonly prescribed drugs for ADHD (all age groups):

  • Ritalin, Mehylin, Metadate, Concerta, Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)
  • Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Strattera (atomoxetine)
  • Aplezin, Wellbutrin, Zyban (buproprion)
  • Intuniv, Tenex (guanfacine)
  • Catapres (clonidine)

Written by Christian Nordqvist