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Hyperactivity in children: risk of hallucinations with methylphenidate

In children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who continue to exhibit disturbed behaviour in spite of non-drug treatment, methylphenidate is a last-resort symptomatic treatment. The usual dose sometimes causes visual and tactile hallucinations. If this occurs, treatment should be halted immediately.

The diagnosis of ADHD in children is based on non-specific symptoms whose treatment involves psychological, educational and possibly social monitoring.

Methylphenidate is a last-resort treatment for children whose behaviour remains disturbed and has a severe impact on their social, school and family life, despite non-drug treatment. Hallucinations in children treated with methylphenidate are mainly of a visual and tactile nature, often involving insects, snakes or worms. Parents should be warned so they can be vigilant. If hallucinations occur, there should be a reassessment of the benefits of this treatment whose long-term effects are not well known and whose effect is symptomatic and short-term.

©Prescrire September 2006

Source: "Hallucinations induites par le méthylphénidate" Rev Prescrire 2006 ; 26 (275) : 590-591.

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