Prescribing risperidone to treat ADHD in people with intellectual disabilities is a common practice, yet new research suggests that there is no evidence to support its effectiveness. Health Behavior News Service focused on a new Cochrane review that shows this practice may be done in error.
Also known as Risperdal, risperidone is a second-generation antipsychotic drug. Research has demonstrated that the long-term use of these drugs has a direct correlation to serious side effects such as weight gain and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
“People who have intellectual disability are more likely to receive treatment with second- generation antipsychotics for ADHD,” said lead review author Dr. Alex Thomson, in the Health Behavior report.
“Doctors should be aware that there is no research to demonstrate the effectiveness of risperidone for ADHD in people with intellectual disability, and should carefully monitor each case and consider alternative treatments before trying risperidone.”
Laurel Leslie, M.D., an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine noted that the findings from this study demonstrate the gap that exists between what is clinically being done and what research evidence actually supports. The study stresses the need for careful consideration of how children’s mental health issues are being treated.
Those children who are routinely treated with risperidone include those who suffer from ADHD and an IQ below 70 with significant impairments in functioning. These children were formerly labeled as having mental retardation. According to research estimations, at least 15 percent of people with severe intellectual disability also suffer from ADHD.
As a result of this study, it is imperative that doctors and other mental health professionals closely examine each case to determine the best treatment. There is no evidentiary support of a generalized risperidone treatment that can be effective in all cases.