Prescriptions for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications jumped by 344% between 2003 and 2015 for women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. The findings were published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Women in their late 20s and early 30s saw a higher increase. Prescriptions rose by 700% in women 25 to 29 years of age, and 560% in women from 30 to 34 years of age. The numbers indicate that 0.9% to 4% of women in the United States filled an ADHD drug prescription.
These numbers are of increased importance as there is little information about the safety of taking ADHD medicine during pregnancy. More research is needed so women with ADHD and their health-care providers can weigh the risks and benefits of ADHD treatment options 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,” said Coleen Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, director of the 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.”
Private insurance claims for women between the ages of 15 and 44 were examined each year from 2003 through 2015 to gauge how many women filled ADHD prescriptions from outpatient pharmacies. Total claims ranged from 2.3 million to 6.8 million per year, with a median sample size of 4.6 million per year. All of the women had private health insurance with prescription drug coverage.
Prescriptions for ADHD medicine increased for all included age groups and in all US geographic regions. In 2015, the most commonly filled ADHD medicines among this group of women were mixed amphetamine salts, lisdexamfetamine, and methylphenidate.
“If a woman is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, she should talk to her health-care provider about all medicines she is taking,” said Dr. Boyle. “Pregnant women should also talk to their doctor before stopping or starting any medicine.”
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