As more children take Adderall and other ADHD medications, experts report a surprising increase in medication errors, many of which resulted in children being hospitalized.
According to a new study, between 2000 and 2021, the number of calls to US poison control centers for medication errors in children with ADHD increased by 300%.
In 2021 alone, there were more than 7,600 poison control calls related to ADHD medications for children and adolescents, affecting one child every 100 minutes, a marked increase from just 1,900 such calls in 2000.
“The increase in the reported number of medication errors is consistent with the findings of other studies reporting an increase in the diagnosis of ADHD among American children over the past two decades,” said study co-author Natalie Rine, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in a news release.
Of the incidents reported, about 83 percent of children and teens ended up not needing to see a doctor. However, 4% had a serious medical outcome and 2% were admitted to a hospital, critical care unit, or other healthcare facility.
Approximately half of the poison control incidents involved amphetamines such as Adderall and related compounds, 23% involved guanfacine, and 15% involved methylphenidate (Ritalin).
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that calls to poison centers involving guanfacine were more likely to result in a serious medical outcome compared to those involving amphetamines or related compounds.
And 67% of the incidents involved boys ages 6 to 12, while 76% involved men, likely because boys are three times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than girls, according to Healthline.
During the 20-year study, 54% of poison control calls were caused by someone inadvertently taking or receiving medication twice.
And a young person inadvertently taking or receiving someone else’s medication caused 13% of the incidents. Another 13% of calls were caused by taking or administering the wrong medication.
Other problems with ADHD medications were found in a recent University of Michigan study, which revealed that one in four middle and high school students abuses stimulants prescribed for ADHD.
“Because ADHD medication errors are preventable, more attention should be paid to educating patients and caregivers and developing better monitoring and dispensing systems for child-resistant medications,” said the study’s author. , Dr. Gary A. Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“Another strategy may be a transition from pill bottles to unit-dose containers, such as blister packs, which can help remember if a medication has already been taken or administered,” Smith added.