A study recently published in the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons journal finds children taking ADHD medications at risk for decreased bone health. As of 2011, more than six million children are diagnosed with ADHD. Between 2007 and 2011, three and one-half million children, along with teenagers, were medicated for the disease.
Importance of Bone Health
During the elementary and teenage years, bone growth is vitally important and central to the skeletal development process. When bone growth is stunted, this can have a major impact on the individual (especially bone health issues during the younger years).
The bones are the framework for the body, and they are living tissues constantly changing. Bone growth typically peaks at around age twenty (20), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Diminished bone growth prior to this age highly impacts bone health in the later years.
Decreased Bone Health
During the study presented, over five thousand pediatric patients were included. Comparisons were made between those taking medications for ADHD and those not. Bone densitometry was used to examine the bone mineral density of the participants.
Children/teenagers taking medications for ADHD were found to have a lower bone mineral density in the femur, femoral neck, and the lower spine. Nearly one-fourth of these were diagnosed with osteopenia (lower than normal bone density).
According to Dr. Rivera, childhood osteopenia increases the risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life. Osteoporosis includes brittle, porous bones along with a significant increase in the risk of bone fractures.
A number of medications were listed in the report which were prescribed to the ADHD patients. Five of the medications included Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, Strattera, and Vyvanse. Additional issues known with the medications include stomach upset, decreased calcium intake, and poor nutrition. These drugs also change the sympathetic nervous system resulting in decreased bone health.
Prevention measures should be taken to ensure children who are on ADHD medications are gaining the nutrition they need to develop healthy bones. Using natural alternatives is an option as well as including high-quality nutritional supplements to ensure optimal health.