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Attention-Deficit Drugs Linked to Better Test Scores

Last Updated: April 29, 2009.

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder who were medicated for the condition scored higher on math and reading tests than their unmedicated peers, according to research published in the May issue of Pediatrics.

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were medicated for the condition scored higher on math and reading tests than their unmedicated peers, according to research published in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Richard M. Scheffler, Ph.D., of the University of California in Berkeley, and colleagues analyzed data from 594 children with ADHD who were followed from kindergarten to fifth grade and were given math and reading achievement tests at five waves during this period. In the spring of the fifth-grade year, the medication rate was 67.7 percent.

The researchers found that children taking medication had a 2.9-point higher mean math score than unmedicated children. Those who were medicated during at least two waves had a 5.4-point higher mean reading score. These differences are comparable to gains attained during 0.19 and 0.29 school years, respectively, the authors note.

"Some 4.4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD, a condition that is strongly associated with low academic achievement," the authors conclude. "With nearly 60 percent of diagnosed children taking prescription medications to treat the disorder, at a cost of $2.2 billion in 2003, the current findings have the potential for wide applicability, particularly because diagnostic prevalence and medication rates differ among demographic groups."

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