How does my doctor determine the right dose of my child's ADHD medication?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Based on reports from you and your child's teachers, your child's initial medication dose for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) depends on several factors. These include the severity of your child's behavior problems, possible side effects, and the likely efficacy of the treatment. As your child tolerates the medication, the doctor will keep adjusting the dose while observing its effects. The doctor may continue to increase the dose until the medication appears to have reached a plateau. This means that the medication suddenly stops improving the child's behavior and performance in school.

Unlike many medication dosages that are prescribed based on a child's weight, ADHD medications are prescribed based on efficacy and side effects. Your child's doctor will want to give your child the maximum dose possible that does not cause any troublesome side effects. Usually, the doctor will start at a low dose and slowly increase it until side effects start to appear. At that point, the doctor will adjust the dose back down until the side effects disappear.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.