Updated on 2 December 2013
Psychostimulant medications such as Ritalin are among the drugs commonly used to reduce ADHD symptoms
Singapore: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a noninvasive way to measure iron levels in the brains of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study presented at Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Researchers said that the method could help physicians and parents make better informed decisions about medication.
ADHD is a common disorder in children and adolescents that can continue into adulthood. Symptoms include hyperactivity and difficulty staying focused, paying attention and controlling behavior. The American Psychiatric Association reports that ADHD affects three-to-seven percent of school-age children.
Psychostimulant medications such as Ritalin are among the drugs commonly used to reduce ADHD symptoms. Psychostimulants affect levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with addiction.
"Studies show that psychostimulant drugs increase dopamine levels and help the kids that we suspect have lower dopamine levels," said Dr Vitria Adisetiyo, postdoctoral research fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, US. "As brain iron is required for dopamine synthesis, assessment of iron levels with MRI may provide a noninvasive, indirect measure of dopamine."
Dr Adisetiyo and colleagues explored this possibility by measuring brain iron in 22 children and adolescents with ADHD and 27 healthy control children and adolescents using an MRI technique called magnetic field correlation (MFC) imaging. The technique is relatively new, having been introduced in 2006 by study co-authors and faculty members Dr Joseph A Helpern, and Dr Jens H Jensen.