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Non-Drug ADHD Treatments Don't Pan Out in Study

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Attempting other therapies "instead of something that works," he said, results in lost time and money, false hopes, and missed opportunities.

Adesman said, however, that he was surprised that behavioral therapy was not found to be effective. "Unlike neurofeedback, elimination diets or attention training, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend behavioral therapy for ADHD in children," he said. "It involves psychologists working with parents to elicit better behavior in their kids, using positive and negative reinforcement, like time-outs."

Even if therapy doesn't improve the core symptoms of ADHD, such as attention span and impulsiveness, it may provide other benefits to the child and family, such as teaching effective communication strategies, Adesman said.

He also encourages parents to be open to the potential benefit drug therapy may provide.

"When I hear parents say they'll consider medicine only as a last resort, that's dangerous," he said. "Parents should confer with their child's pediatrician and discuss a range of treatment approaches and recognize that often the reason a medicine is suggested is not because of a physician's bias but rather because the data is generally stronger than for other treatments."

The European ADHD Guidelines Group received support for the study from Brain Products GMBH and drug makers Janssen-Cilag, Lilly, Medice, Shire and Vifor Pharma.

More information

Learn more about ADHD from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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