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Triptan use during pregnancy does not increase ADHD risk

A recent study showed no correlation between prenatal exposure to triptans and diagnosis or symptoms of ADHD in children.

Prenatal exposure to triptans does not increase the chances of children developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a recent study.

Triptans are used to relieve migraines, but some have hypothesized that prenatal exposure may lead to adverse fetal neurodevelopment. Currently, there is little known about potential long-term effects from triptan use during pregnancy, despite 9% to 25% of women using triptans during pregnancy when experiencing migraines.

Prior studies did not find malformation after exposure to triptans, but some have found a rise in neurodevelopmental issues in children exposed to triptans. These issues were only found in younger children and were not noted in pre-school aged children. To address the need for research on conditions such as ADHD, researchers studied the correlation between prenatal triptan exposure and development of ADHD in children.

Data was taken from the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study, which included information on live-born singleton children of mothers who experienced migraines. There were 114,500 children, 95,200 mothers, and 75,200 fathers included in the study. The children were placed into 2 analytic samples: one assessing ADHD diagnosis and the other assessing ADHD symptoms. Mothers self-reported use of triptans during pregnancy, and children exposed to triptans were compared to those who were not exposed.

The Conners’ Parent Rating Scale was used to assess ADHD symptoms, with the score rising with each recorded symptom. Hyperkinetic disorder or receipt of dispensed ADHD medication were the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis.

Over 10,000 children were in the ADHD diagnosis sample, and over 4000 children were in the ADHD symptoms sample. In both sample groups, children were observed for a mean of 10 years. Children with prenatal exposure to triptans did not show an increased rate of ADHD symptoms or diagnosis compared to those whose mothers had migraines before and during pregnancy but did not use triptans. Average scores on the Conners’ Parent Rating Scale did not vary between sample groups.

Researchers considered the results reassuring for women who experience migraines during pregnancy and wish to use triptans. This provides important information on the safety of triptan use during pregnancy and the effects on neurobehavioral outcomes.

Reference

Harris GM, Wood M, Ystrom E, Nordeng H. Association of maternal use of triptans during pregnancy with risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in offspring. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(6):e2215333. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.15333