ADHD

Updated 04 July 2014

New MRI scans for iron levels in ADHD kids

Doctors and parents may soon be better able to make informed decisions about medication for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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A newer MRI method can detect low iron levels in the brains of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The method could help doctors and parents make better informed decisions about medication, a new study says.

Psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD affect levels of the brain chemical dopamine.

Study author, Dr Vitria Adisetiyo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said because iron was required to process dopamine, using the MRI scanner to assess iron levels in the brain could provide a non-invasive, indirect measure of the chemical.

Improved diagnosis and treatment

Adisetiyo said if these findings were confirmed in larger studies, the technique might help improve ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

The method might allow researchers to measure dopamine levels without injecting the patient with a substance that enhances imaging, she said.

ADHD symptoms include hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused, paying attention and controlling behaviour.

The American psychiatric association reports that between 3 - 7% of school-age children are affected by ADHD.

More information

Everything you need to know about ADHD

(Photo of MRI scanner by Shutterstock


 

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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