The incidence of women of reproductive age filling scripts for ADHD medicines has soared, up to 700% in one age group
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expressed concern at the skyrocketing incidence of ADHD medicine use in younger women, warning that a focus is needed on safely treating the condition before and during pregnancy.
The number of privately insured US women aged between 15 and 44 who filled a script for a medicine to treat ADHD increased by 344% between 2003 and 2015, according to a report in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
This growth was even higher in some cohorts: in the 25-29 year old age group, ADHD medicine use increased by 700%, and among women aged 30 to 34, by 560%.
To get the figures, researchers examined private insurance claims for 2.3 million to 6.8 million women aged 15 to 44, over the years 2003 to 2015 (the median sample was 4.6 million women per year).
They found that the proportion of women filling scripts for ADHD medicines rose from 0.9% of women in 2003 to 4% of women in 2015.
In 2015, the most commonly filled ADHD medicines among women were mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
However, the CDC notes that little information is available about the safety of taking ADHD medicines during pregnancy, and warns that more research is needed so that women with ADHD and their health care providers can weigh the risks and benefits of continuing treatment during pregnancy.
“Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and women may be taking prescription medicine early in pregnancy before they know they are pregnant,” says Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
“Early pregnancy is a critical time for the developing baby. We need to better understand the safest ways to treat ADHD before and during pregnancy.”