Pediatric pharmacoepidemiology - safety and effectiveness of medicines for ADHD

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral disorder in children and adolescents that comprises core symptoms of developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. Stimulant (methylphenidate, amphetamines) and non stimulant (atomoxetine, clonidine and guanfacine) are the treatment usually prescribed for ADHD. Area covered: This review covers the safety of ADHD medications in children and adolescents. MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO databases were searched with the aim to retrieve prospective studies that monitored the incidence of adverse events (AEs) in children receiving drug therapy for ADHD. Many of the studies investigated the risk of specific AEs. In particular, the cardiovascular safety, the impact on growth and on sleep pattern, the risk of substance use disorders and of suicidal ideation are among the topics more studied. Expert opinion: Effective drugs for ADHD appears to be safe and well tolerated. Most of the adverse events reported in the randomised controlled trials are mild and transient. Decreased appetite, growth decrease and the impact on sleep (insomnia for stimulants and somnolence for alpha2-agonists) are among the most common events. Concerns exist about cardiovascular and psychiatric AEs, even if the available evidence does not support an association with medications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1345
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2017


  • Amphetamines
  • atomoxetine
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • drug-related side effects and adverse reactions
  • methylphenidate
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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