Teens Are Using More ADHD Medications

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder seems to be an epidemic these days. A new study revealed that the rate of children using stimulant medications increased from 2.4% to 3.5% from 1996 to 2008. However, in teens aged 13 to 18, it rose from 2.3% to 5%. The article also mentions that 9% of all children have been diagnosed with ADHD at some time in their lives. 

My question is, why do stimulant medication help to calm already hyperactive children? A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2006 showed that about 27% of children who were scheduled for routine tonsillectomy had ADHD by official criteria (compared to 7% in controls). After surgery, the rate of ADHD in these children dropped 50%. Clearly, there are a number of other possible aggravating factors involved with ADHD, but I’m willing to bet that problems breathing at night is a major factor, if not the the most important factor. 

It’s clear that the reason stimulants work in most children with ADHD is because they’re chronically sleep deprived. Many parents will agree with my experiences with my 2 year old—if he’s overly tired or skips a nap, he’s “bouncing off the walls,” It’s not surprising that many of the children that I see who are on ADHD medications also tend to be mouth breathers, have an elongated face, and has an “adenoid facies” appearance.

If you have a child with ADHD, what is the quality of his sleep? Can she sleep on her back? Which of the parents of a child with ADHD snore heavily?


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One thought on “Teens Are Using More ADHD Medications

  1. Dr. Park,

    I had a poor and troubling experience with the ADD/ADHD route starting in 1966. However, I have physical deformities associated with jaw, tongue and nasal passages and have had the undiagnosed pediatric SDB/OSA.
    My personal experience with stimulant therapy in 1968 was met with adverse effects. The prescribed Dexedrine caused a negative response and induced psychosis. A switch to Ritalin and had no response and no effect on hyperactivity. Unfortunately, I re-visited the same treatment in adulthood with Ritalin therapy. This misdiagnosis and treament occurred during college and my grades and GPA suffered severely during that semester on stimulant therapy.
    In my case, I had improper treatment when the main cause for psychological disorder and attention deficit was sleep deprivation and apnea/hypoxemia. I hope the families, social and medical community becomes more aware to properly observe and diagnose correctly.