Stimulant medications

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 May;38(5):503-12. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199905000-00011.


Objective: To review the short- and long-term safety and efficacy of stimulants for the treatment of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: A Medline search was conducted for both randomized controlled trials and reviews to determine the efficacy and safety of stimulant drugs for treating children with ADHD. Information was obtained on adverse events associated with their use, including their impact on height and weight gain during childhood. Animal data were reviewed for information on tolerance, sensitization, and the impact of high-dose stimulant effects on neurons and on the development of hepatic tumors. Human data on dopamine transporter occupancy by stimulants were also included.

Results: Stimulant treatment studies show robust short-term efficacy and a good safety profile. Longer-term studies are few in number but have produced no conclusive evidence that careful therapeutic use of these medications is harmful.

Conclusion: Current evidence indicates that stimulants show efficacy and safety in studies lasting up to 24 months.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Body Constitution
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants