Side effects of methylphenidate in children and the young
Introduction. The use of psychostimulants has been present in common medical practice since the 20th century and has undergone an exponential growth in terms of the number of prescriptions.
Aim. To review the current state of knowledge about the side effects of psychostimulants in the child and teen populations.
Development. A review was performed by searching in different databases and included clinical analyses, observational prospective studies and systematic reviews. A minimum increase in blood pressure and heart rate are observed, but some studies highlight an underestimation of the long-term risk. As regards appetite and growth, almost all the current literature points to a slowing of the rate of growth, which is regained on interrupting treatment. One important factor, as is the parallel evolution of bone age, has not been evaluated in most of the studies carried out to date. No significant worsening of sleep was noted in patients treated with psychostimulants with respect to those who are not being treated. With regard to the central nervous system, there does not seem to be any evidence of an increased risk of the appearance or exacerbation of tics following introduction of the treatment. Affect and emotion are areas that have been barely explored.
Conclusions. It is important to have more evidence on the safety of these drugs. It is therefore essential to have access to studies that cover a period of time consistent with the duration of these treatments.
Key words. Adolescents. Children. Evidence. Methylphenidate. Psychostimulants. Safety. Side effects. Treatment.