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ADHD Medications, Side Effects, and Family
Q: My 10-year-old was just diagnosed with ADHD, combined type. She's on Ritalin and Clonidine. The medications are actually helping her. Are these drugs addictive? Will they affect her reproductive cycle, or prevent her from having a child? I feel as though I'm constantly defending my decision to my family and friends and that I'm not drugging my child. Any suggestions?
A: I have not seen any warnings on either of these drugs that refer to problems with a young woman's reproductive cycle, but this is something you should discuss with the doctor who prescribed and monitors her medication.
A major research study done by the National Institute of Mental Health (1999) was conducted with almost 600 children with ADHD (combined type) over a 14-month period. The results showed that children in the group treated with intensive behavioral management and carefully-managed medication and the treatment group that only received closely monitored medical management, had much greater improvement in their ADHD symptoms then the groups that received intensive behavior treatment alone or community care. We know from many studies that medication can have a powerful effect on the symptoms of ADHD, but each parent must discuss with her child's doctor the benefits and drawbacks of any medication considered.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.