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Symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are known to
persist into adulthood in the majority of cases.
To determine the prevalence of methylphenidate, dexamfetamine and
atomoxetine prescribing and treatment discontinuation in adolescents and
A descriptive cohort study using the UK General Practice Research
Database included patients aged 15–21 years from 1999 to 2006 with a
prescription for a study drug.
Prevalence of prescribing averaged across all ages increased 6.23-fold
over the study period. Overall, prevalence decreased with age: in 2006,
prevalence in males dropped 95% from 12.77 per 1000 in 15-year-olds to
0.64 per 1000 in 21-year-olds. A longitudinal analysis of a cohort of 44
patients aged 15 years in 1999 demonstrated that no patient received
treatment after the age of 21 years.
The prevalence of prescribing by general practitioners to patients with
ADHD drops significantly from age 15 to age 21 years. The fall in
prescribing is greater than the reported age-related decrease in
symptoms, raising the possibility that treatment is prematurely
discontinued in some young adults in whom symptoms persist.