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ADHD in Children Health Center

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New ADHD Medication Affects Sleep Less

Strattera May Be Better Treatment Option for Children With Tics
WebMD Health News

Oct. 23, 2003 -- In one of the first studies to compare Strattera, the first non-stimulant to treat ADHD, with the ADHD medication Ritalin, researchers found that Strattera caused fewer sleep disturbances. And Strattera may work better in kids who also have a tic disorder.

"Strattera is being used by people who don't want to even start on a stimulant, and also for children who haven't done well on them or have had side effects," Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkley, tells WebMD. He was not involved in the current studies.

But new research suggests that it may be the best treatment option for some other patients as well.

Fewer Sleep Disturbances

As many as 40% of kids treated with a stimulant ADHD medication experience troubling side effects, says psychiatric drug expert Joseph Biederman, MD. Common problems include sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and jitteriness.

Biederman is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of the pediatric psychopharmacology research program at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was not involved in this study but has done other Strattera research funded by the drug's manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Company, a WebMD sponsor.

"Stimulants are very effective medications for ADHD, but for many people this comes at a high price," he tells WebMD.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was one of the first to compare Strattera and Ritalin head to head. The study was funded by Lilly.

Once-daily Strattera was compared with Ritalin taken three times a day in 75 children aged 6 to 14. Each child took one of the ADHD medications for six weeks, followed by a two-week period with no medication, and then another six-week period of taking the other ADHD medication. Neither the researcher nor the study participants knew which medication the children were taking.

Both ADHD medications effectively controlled symptoms in a group of 75 children, but Strattera caused fewer sleep disturbances.

Researchers also concluded that Strattera "may have some advantages in controlling (ADHD) symptoms early in the morning."

A common complaint about Strattera is that it causes sedation, but Biederman says daytime sleepiness can usually be avoided by giving the drug at night.

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