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New method for reducing aggression in children

Researchers based at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have been looking into children who have certified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), together with manifestations of physical aggression.

Results of these inquiries have shown that the addition of risperidone together with a stimulant, when coupled with behavior training, leads to lower levels of anxiety and physical aggression in children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Risperidone is an antipsychotic drug mainly used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression.) The drug is also used in autistic children to treat symptoms of irritability.

This was based on studies where teachers were asked to rate children’s attitudes in classroom situations, where children were examined with and without the stimulant and antipsychotic drug.

Here some 168 children (aged between six and 12), who had been diagnosed with ADHD or disruptive behavior disorder (DBD), were randomly assigned to two groups. In one group, parent training plus stimulant plus placebo was administered. In the second group, parent training plus stimulant plus the antipsychotic drug risperidone was given. Each child was given parent training plus stimulant for the first three weeks of the study only. For six weeks following the two groups received different treatments.

The teacher ratings showed a strong advantage for the second group, who received the stimulant drug plus risperidone together with parental training. The reason for this is because aggression and anxiety appear to be interrelated. It was also noted that anger and irritability influenced changes in disruptive behaviour.

The study was led by L. Eugene Arnold and Michael Aman and the findings have been published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology (JCAP). The paper is called “Atypical Antipsychotic Use Among Medicaid-Insured Children and Adolescents: Duration, Safety, and Monitoring Implications.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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