December 28, 2023
The CDC recently reported that ADHD medication use in women ages 15 to 44 increased from 0.9 percent to 4 percent from 2003 to 2015. The most commonly used medications were formulations of amphetamine or methylphenidate.
This increase in treatment for ADHD suggests that educational programs such as adhdinadults.com have been effective in teaching clinicians how to identify and treat the disorder. The 4 percent rate reported by the CDC is encouraging because it is close to what Ron Kessler and colleagues reported as the prevalence of adult ADHD in the population. CDC correctly points out that little is known about the effects of ADHD medications on pregnancies. Thus, caution is warranted.
Oei et al.'s review of amphetamines concluded: "There is little evidence of amphetamine-induced neurotoxicity and long-term neurodevelopmental impact, as data is scarce and difficult to extricate from the influence of other factors associated with children living in households where one or more parent uses drugs in terms of poverty and neglect. ... We suggest that exposed children may be at risk of ongoing developmental and behavioral impediment, and recommend that efforts be made to improve early detection of perinatal exposure and to increase the provision of early intervention services for affected children and their families"
Bolea-Alamanac et al.'s review of methylphenidate effects concluded: "There is a paucity of data regarding the use of methylphenidate in pregnancy and further studies are required. Although the default medical position is to interrupt any non-essential pharmacological treatment during pregnancy and lactation, in ADHD this may present a significant risk. Doctors need to evaluate each case carefully before interrupting treatment." These words of caution should be heeded by clinicians caring for women of reproductive age.
The CDC Report: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0118-ADHD-prescriptions-increasing.html
Review of effects of methylphenidate in pregnancybyBolea-Alamanac et al: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23593966
Review of effects of methylphenidate in pregnancy by Oie et al.:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22652562