HealthDay News — Treatment with methylphenidate affects specific tracts in brain white matter in boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published in Radiology.

Cheima Bouziane, MD, from the University of Amsterdam, and colleagues conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial to examine whether methylphenidate modulates white matter microstructure in an age-dependent fashion. Fifty stimulant treatment-naive boys (aged 10 to 12 years) and 48 young adult men (aged 23 to 40 years) diagnosed with ADHD were randomly assigned to receive either methylphenidate or placebo for 16 weeks. Study participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging, including diffusion-tensor imaging, before and 1 week after treatment cessation.

The researchers found no main effect of time on fractional anisotropy in any of the regions of interest assessed. Time-by-medication-by-age interaction effects were identified in several association tracts of the left hemisphere and in the lateral aspect of the truncus of the corpus callosum in voxel-based analysis due to a greater increase in fractional anistrophy in boys treated with methylphenidate. Boys receiving placebo and adult men did not have similar changes.

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“What our data already underscore is that the use of ADHD medications in children must be carefully considered until more is known about the long-term consequences of prescribing methylphenidate at a young age,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The drug should only be prescribed to children who actually have ADHD and are significantly affected by it.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Nico.lab.

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