The number of women who got prescriptions filled for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs rose sharply by a massive 700% from 2003 to 2015, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.
The surge in American women taking ADHD medicine was most apparent in the 25 to 29 age bracket, but the report added that the number of women ages 15 to 44 who had private health insurance and filled prescriptions for ADHD drugs also jumped by 344% between 2003 and 2015.
The second-highest uptick for ADHD prescriptions filled was for women ages 30 to 34 years, ABC News reports.
The report emphasizes the need for further research to determine how these medications affect factors such as pregnancy. Dr. Coleen Boyle, the director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said,
Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and women may be taking prescription medicine early in pregnancy before they know they are pregnant.
“Early pregnancy is a critical time for the developing baby,” Boyle said. “We need to better understand the safest ways to treat ADHD before and during pregnancy.”
The most frequently filled ADHD medication prescriptions in 2015 among the women in the report were mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Boyle urged pregnant women or women who wish to get pregnant to talk to their doctors first about the medications they are taking in order to get more information on potential risks.
The use of ADHD drugs has increased, despite the availability of non-stimulant drugs, which has seen a steady percentage of use in the time period covered by the report. The CDC did not specify what may have caused this sudden surge in numbers, but a factor could be awareness of ADHD in recent decades that has resulted in the number of people diagnosed with the condition increasing through the years, The Guardian reports.
The findings were published the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.