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Children With ADHD Get Fewer Burns When They Receive Medication

Treating ADHD might mean you don’t get burned – literally.

A new study from researchers in Taiwan highlights that fact by looking at rates of burn injuries among children with medicated and unmedicated ADHD.

MatchFor long-time readers of ADHD Millennial, the idea of researchers in Taiwan showing a link between injury proneness and ADHD might seem familiar. That’s because I did a post a few years ago where I highlighted two studies from researchers in Taiwan demonstrating how people with ADHD injure themselves at higher rates and medication can help.

The reason Taiwan is ideal for this type of research is because the country keeps a database of all medical treatment administered through its single-payer health system, a massive trove of information that researchers often make use of.

In the study looking at burn injuries among children with ADHD, the authors were able to track data for all patients with ADHD diagnoses who were under the age of 18 at some point between 1996 and 2013 – criteria that yielded 90,634 individuals altogether. They found that:

  • Children with unmedicated ADHD had a 6.7 percent risk of burn injury
  • Children who had received medication for three months or less had a 4.5 percent risk
  • Children who had received medication for more than three months had a 2.9 percent risk

Thus, when children’s ADHD symptoms were treated with medication, they saw a sharp dip in their risk of burn injuries, with children who had received medication for at least three months having less than half the risk of children who were not receiving medication.

That fits with previous research suggesting a link between ADHD and accident proneness, with the link being especially strong for unmedicated ADHD.

Although the design of the current study couldn’t show that having unmedicated ADHD is what caused the higher risk for burn injury, that explanation for the findings certainly seems plausible.

After all, try combining basically any ADHD symptom with hot objects and it’s not hard to see the potential for danger.

Inattention and hot objects? Not a winning combination.

Impulsivity and hot objects? Probably not the way to go either.

If it’s a bad idea to play with fire, having ADHD with fire comes with its own risks.

Of course, being at higher risk for burn injury is a very specific consequence of ADHD, and it’s likely not the reason most people seek treatment. But it illustrates a wider pattern: ADHD symptoms have real implications in everyday life, including implications for health and personal safety.

Image: Flickr/Derek Gavey

Children With ADHD Get Fewer Burns When They Receive Medication

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Children With ADHD Get Fewer Burns When They Receive Medication. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Jul 2020
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