TUESDAY, July 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — For youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), stimulants have strong protective effects on functional outcomes, according to a study published online July 23 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Joseph Biederman, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used the number needed to treat (NNT) statistic to quantify the protective effects of stimulant treatment on important functional outcomes in ADHD. Participants were derived from three independent samples: two case-control 10-year prospective follow-up studies of boys and girls with and without ADHD and one cross-sectional randomized clinical trial of lisdexamfetamine on driving performance and behavior. Participants in the driving trial underwent two driving simulation assessments: premedication and after six weeks of treatment.

The researchers found that the NNTs were very low and varied, from three to 10. There were no interaction effects with sex. With the exception of any substance use disorder, which increased after controlling for age, the NNTs mostly remained unchanged after adjustment for sex, age, socioeconomic status, and family intactness.

“These findings provide compelling evidence for the strong protective effects of stimulants against the development of numerous adverse outcomes in ADHD, supporting early diagnosis and treatment of boys and girls with ADHD,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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