Stimulants for Healthy People?
Healthy people should be permitted to take pills typically prescribed only for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or memory impairment, suggested several scientists in an opinion piece published online yesterday in the journal Nature. Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are usually prescribed for those with ADHD, but the drugs may also help those without the disorder focus and handle information. College students already illegally take such drugs to help with studying, the scientists wrote. Also, a sleep disorder drug called Provigil can help healthy people who need a boost when they're sleep deprived, and some Alzheimer's disease medications may help improve memory in healthy people. Two of the study's seven authors acknowledged consulting for pharmaceutical companies, the Associated Press reports.
In May, U.S. News's Nancy Shute talked with Edward Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction and CrazyBusy, about news that adults with ADHD lose 22 days' worth of productivity at work each year because of the disorder. Hallowell said the study might actually help more people identify a condition that's making them miserable and get help.
U.S. News also recently investigated how people use Ritalin, Adderall, and other stimulants as study drugs and performance enhancers. It also reported on concerns that stimulants can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. While adults are most at risk, taking the drugs appears to increase the risk of death for children with rare undetected heart problems.
Making Pregnancy Possible
Infertility affects about 7.3 million U.S. couples, or roughly 12 percent of those trying to get pregnant, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. About one third of infertility cases can be attributed to female factors—such as blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cysts—and a similar number result from male problems, such as diminished sperm production. For the remaining couples, it's a combination of problems in both partners, or it is simply unexplained. Eighty-five percent to 90 percent of infertility cases can be treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures, the ASRM estimates. Fewer than 3 percent require costly advanced reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization. U.S. News lists five fertility tips to help make pregnancy possible.
Protecting Kids From Heart Disease
Kids today are developing very "adult" health problems, from aging arteries and prediabetes to hypertension and high cholesterol, Deborah Kotz reports. And doctors out of necessity are starting to treat them like grown-ups. From 2002 to 2005, pediatric prescriptions for diabetes drugs rose by more than 100 percent. "Our findings are a symptom of a growing problem in children, the increase in chronic disease," says Emily Cox, senior director of research at Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit management company in St. Louis, whose study on medication use in children was published in November in Pediatrics.