ADHD medications could be linked to brittle bones

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are looking in to how long term use of ADHD drugs impact health.

Posted: May 25, 2018 10:54 PM

University of Alabama in Huntsville researchers are looking in to the health effects of medications used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

According to the most recent stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama ranks in the top five in the U.S. for the number of ADHD meds doctors prescribe to kids with the disorder.

The research being done on campus is the first time people are gathering data specifically to find out if using ADHD drugs lead to having brittle bones.

Dr. Gordon Macgregor and Dr. Shannon Mathis are Professors at UAH.

They're doing the study there, because of how many kids on campus take ADHD meds.

"We expect a lot of our college aged students, maybe 25%, to be on this drug. That's the numbers that are published," said Dr. Macgregor.

The number of kids taking the drug goes up at certain times of the year.

"Research has been done that during an exam that up to 50% of the college aged students have taken this drug," said Dr. Macgregor.

They're specifically looking at the impact of long term use of amphetamines, like Adderall and Ritalin, that have been used for six months or longer.

"The original observations came from these illegal drug users. The methamphetamine users that they have really bad teeth and their teeth fall out. Teeth is a bone," said Dr. Macgregor.

The researchers are right in the middle of getting 120 UAH students to come get a bone density scan.

Depending on the results, they have a follow up study they want to do too.

"Such as a high intensity training program that would be interesting and exciting and fun for young adults to partake in that might increase bone density and offset the affect of the drug," said Dr. Mathis.

Depending on the results of the study, this could have an impact on how many of these types of medications are prescribed.

"Maybe physicians will really scrutinize whether or not those signs and symptoms of add and adhd are present prior to prescribing these medications," said Dr. Mathis.

The two researchers plan on wrapping up the study in October.

They'll analyze the data and make a conclusion.

If they find ADHD meds do cause brittle bones they'll move on to their next study.

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