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Continued Use of ADHD Drugs May Reduce Criminal Behavior, Study Says
Date:11/21/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- For teens and adults who don't grow out of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, staying on ADHD medications may help them stay out of trouble.

Males with ADHD who stayed on medications for the disorder reduced their risk of criminal behavior by 32 percent, while women who did so reduced their rates of criminal behavior by 42 percent, according to a large Swedish study.

"It seems as though ADHD medications decrease the risk for criminality while under treatment," said the study's lead author, Paul Lichtenstein, professor of genetic epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm.

Results of the study are published in the Nov. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, said past research has found that adults with ADHD have a "host of increased risks later in life, like driving accidents, losing jobs, divorce and arrests." Adesman said those at greatest risk of criminal behavior are those with hyperactivity.

Adesman added that it's important for parents to know that not all children with ADHD will engage in criminal behavior, and that some children will outgrow ADHD. Still, "collectively, people with ADHD are at risk for a range of poor outcomes," he said.

For the current study, the researchers gathered information on more than 25,000 people living in Sweden with a diagnosis of ADHD. They also collected information on what types of medications were given as treatment, and any criminal convictions that occurred between 2006 and 2009.

Researchers then compared non-medication periods to medication periods and the rates of criminal behavior for each person.

The risk of criminal activity dropped by more than a third for men and
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