Psychopharmacological and other treatments in preschool children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: current evidence and practice

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2008 Oct;18(5):413-47. doi: 10.1089/cap.2008.022.


Objective: This article reviews rational approaches to treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschool children, including pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health, Educational Resources Information Center, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects for relevant literature published in English from 1967 to 2007 on preschool ADHD. We also reviewed the references cited in identified reports.

Study selection: Studies were reviewed if the sample included at least some children younger than 6 years of age or attending kindergarten, the study participants had a diagnosis of ADHD or equivalent symptoms, received intervention aimed at ADHD symptoms, and included a relevant outcome measure.

Data extraction: Studies were reviewed for type of intervention and outcome relevant to ADHD and were rated for the level of evidence for adequacy of the data to inform clinical practice.

Conclusions: The current level of evidence for adequacy of empirical data to inform clinical practice for short-term treatment of ADHD in preschool children is Level A for methylphenidate and Level B for parent behavior training, child training, and additive-free elimination diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Food Additives
  • Humans
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use
  • Parents / education


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Food Additives
  • Methylphenidate