Long-term Effects of Medication
Dr. Wolraich stresses that behavior modification without medication should be tried first for preschoolers (for grade school children and adolescents, the AAP recommends medication andbehavior therapy in tandem, if possible). Most programs last around 8 to 12 weeks. Dr. Wolraich stresses that ADHD meds are only for preschoolers with moderate to severe behavior problems. “We want to be more conservative in treating the littlest kids, because there’s still not a lot of data on the long-term effect of medication,” says Dr. Wolraich. Since kids with ADHD stays on meds for an average of three years, there’s a dearth of studies on how ADHD medications like Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, or Vyvanse can effect development when you start at a young age and continue it.
Preschoolers on stimulants like Ritalin tend to experience the same side effects as older kids, like insomnia or loss of appetite. However, due to a slower metabolism, smaller doses may be effective for preschoolers, making side effects less of a problem.