Study links ADHD drug use to improved reading skills among children with dyslexia

A new study of atomoxetine, a drug used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was associated with improved reading skills among children 10-16 years of age with either dyslexia alone or with ADHD and dyslexia, compared to placebo. The study results demonstrated improvements in critical reading skills such as vocabulary and coding among children with dyslexia-only, and showed the positive effects of atomoxetine on reading to be independent of the drug's effect on ADHD symptoms in children with ADHD and dyslexia, as reported in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology website.

Sally Shaywitz, MD, Yale University, and coauthors from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (New Haven, CT); Lilly USA, inVentiv Health Clinical, and Indiana University School of Medicine (Indianapolis, IN), AVIDA (Newport Beach, CA), University of California San Francisco, and University of North Carolina, School of Medicine (Chapel Hill, NC), conclude that the improvement in reading measures associated with atomoxetine use in this study helps support proof-of-concept for the ability to improve dyslexia with medication. Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.

The researchers treated children and adolescents who had either dyslexia alone, ADHD and dyslexia, or ADHD alone with atomoxetine (1.4 mg/kg/day) or placebo over a 16-week study period. They describe the study design, results, and implications of their findings in the article entitled "Effect of Atomoxetine Treatment on Reading and Phonological Skills in Children with Dyslexia or Attention-Deficity/Hyperactivity Disorder and Comorbid Dyslexia in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial."

"Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder that affects millions of children. This study gives a new potential treatment option that deserves our attention and further study," says Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and President of the Child Mind Institute in New York.

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