Medication effects on symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2008 Aug;18(4):365-71. doi: 10.1089/cap.2007.0121.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be the most common mental health disorder in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Despite this, little information is available regarding the effectiveness of ADHD treatment in this population. This study, conducted within a clinical service, aimed to assess the impact of medication on symptoms of ADHD in children with FASD by determining (a) the extent of change in ADHD symptoms with medication, and (b) whether differences in improvement are seen between symptom domains. Data were extracted from the medical records of 27 children with FASD who had been referred to an ADHD medication service at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Canada. Participants were primarily male and ranged in age from 5 years 6 months to 14 years 5 months. Teacher MTA-SNAP-IV scores were the primary outcome measure. Baseline, best, and change scores across three symptom domains (inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and opposition/defiance) were determined. A total of 41 medication trials was conducted. More children obtained normalized best scores for hyperactivity/impulsivity (n = 18) and opposition/defiance (n = 19) than for inattention (n = 9) across medication trials. These findings suggest that inattention may be less responsive to ADHD medication. Replication in larger samples with a placebo-controlled design is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Central Nervous System Agents