Archive for June, 2009

ADHD Stimulants and Sudden Fatalities

The study conductor(s)top
Lead Author: Prof. Madelyn Gould, (child psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University)
The participant(s)top
564 children in the United States who died suddenly and inexplicably between 1985 and 1996; A accidental death “counterpart” to each sudden death.
Date study concludedtop
June 1, 2009
Funded bytop
Food and Drug Administration and The National Institute of Mental Health

To determine if a link between ADHD medication and sudden childhood fatalities exists.


To determine if a link exists between ADHD medication and sudden fatalities, researchers evaluated 562 sudden deaths and an equal number of accidental deaths. Ten children who died suddenly were taking ADHD medications as opposed to two children who died accidentally who were taking ADHD medications.

Methods usedtop

The researchers evaluated how many of the children who died had been taking stimulant drugs by asking their parents and caregivers and by reviewing medical documents. For every child who died suddenly and inexplicably, the researchers then found another child closely matched in terms of age, sex and other variables who died in a traffic accident. Taking a stimulant drug is unlikely to have played any role in a child getting killed in an accident. If stimulant drugs had nothing to do with sudden, unexplained death, then the number of victims on stimulant drugs who suffered such deaths and the number of victims on stimulant drugs who died in traffic accidents ought to have been about the same.


Gould found that 10 children in the group that suffered sudden, unexplained death had been taking stimulant drugs, whereas only two children in the group killed in traffic accidents were taking such medications.

  • This study was peer-reviewed prior to entering the Public Studies database.
  • The accuracy of reporting could be effected as guardians may be more likely to note medications taken if a child dies suddenly, than if a child dies in a vehicle accident.
External Sourcestop |
APA Citation(s)top
ADHD Stimulants and Sudden Fatalities. (2009).
   Retrieved January 21, 2018, from Public Studies Web site:
MLA Citation(s)top
“ADHD Stimulants and Sudden Fatalities”
   Public Studies. 1 June 2009.
   January 21, 2018. <>.