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ADHD May Lead to Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease



An early-onset form of Parkinson's disease may be more likely to develop in people with ADHD.

A team of researchers from the University of Utah studied how the two conditions could be linked. Published in Nature Neuropsychopharmacology on Wednesday, the study found that the binding is even more pronounced in patients who have been treated with certain medications, such as amphetamines and psychostimulants such as Ritalin.

"In individuals diagnosed with ADHD and not treated with any stimulants, there was an increase of about two and a half times in the likelihood that they would develop Parkinson's or Parkinson's disorders," Dr. Glen Hanson, Professor of Pharmacology and Deputy Dean of the University of Utah School of Dentistry, who directed the study, stated Newsweek . "If they were treated with Ritalin or other amphetamines, this increase went from 2.4 to 8.6 times.There was this dramatic leap in the likelihood that they would develop a disorder similar to Parkinson's."

Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease whose symptoms include stiffness, tremors and difficulty walking, and therefore cognitive problems in the later stages of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists have not determined the exact causes of Parkinson's disease, but believe it could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Approximately 50,000 people are diagnosed in the United States each year.

In this study, scientists analyzed 200,000 people with Parkinson's who were residents of Utah born between 1

950 and 1992. Of the 200,000 people, about 32,000 were diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers checked their results for other things that could affect the development of Parkinson's. For example, people with schizophrenia may be more likely to develop the disease and people who smoke are less likely to develop the disease. These extremes were excluded.

 Kid's Umbrella ADHD Young children dance with their umbrellas at the launch of an art installation called the Umbrella Project, which aimed to raise awareness of ADHD and autism in children. People with ADHD may be more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease. CHRISTOPHER FURLONG / GETTY IMAGES

A recent study found that the prevalence of ADHD in American children increased from 6.1% in 1997 to 10.2% in 2016. During the time when people in Hanson's study were children, the prevalence was even lower than in 1997. Drug use also increased.

"The use of psychostimulants was about 15 percent," Hanson said of his study population. "In today's world they use psychostimulants to treat, I would say, two to two thirds of these patients, so our population has much less than those treated with Ritalin compared to those treated with Ritalin now."

These changes could mean that in the future, more people will be diagnosed with Parkinson's than today. Hanson said: "This is like the canary in the coal mine that we are witnessing in the early stages when we can start asking questions about Parkinson's disease, but we are not really in the part where most of Parkinson's shows up and this is after the age of 60. "


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