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Why some kids with ADHD respond better to drugs


Researchers have found that children with certain dopamine system gene variants have an improved response to methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it doesn’t always work as well as hoped. This discovery could help doctors make better prescriptions and better assumptions about how well a child will respond to medication.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, outlines the results of 89 children with ADHD aged 7 through 11 who were tested. Children with specific variants of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) genes showed greater improvement in hyperactivity and impulsivity after taking methylphenidate compared to children with different DAT.

“Physicians don’t have a good way of predicting who will experience great improvement in ADHD symptoms with a particular medication, so currently we use a trial and error approach. Unfortunately as a result, finding an effective treatment can take a long time,” explained Tanya Froehlich MD, lead investigator on the study and a physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital medical Center. “With more information about genes that may be involved in ADHD medication response, we may be able to predict treatment course, tailor our approach to each child, and improve symptom response while decreasing health care costs.”

This is the first test to evaluate the dopamine gene variants as well as ratings from parents and teachers. The children in this study had not previously taken any kind of medication for their ADHD.

Source: University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, ScienceDaily

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