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FASD & medication

Children and young people with FASD will often require medication to support their emotional, behavioural or learning issues. Some medications may help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, or depression.
There are a few studies on medication for treating ADHD in FASD, and none for disruptive behaviour disorders in FASD.

There are two main classes of medication which have been studied in people with FASD


  • There is some evidence that stimulant medications (dexamphetamine or methylphenidatehelp) in FASD, based on small randomised control trials and retrospective studies
  • In these studies, Connor’s rating scales suggested stimulants improved hyperactivity/impulsivity, but were less effective or had limited impact on inattention
  • It is not clear whether dexamphetamine or methylphenidate is more effective


  • Risperidone is widely used for aggression in children with FASD, however there are no published randomised controlled studies in children with FASD

Use of ADHD medication in children who also have a diagnosis of FASD

If you would like to read more about FASD and medications here are some key references

Systematic review of interventions for children with FASD

Journal article by Peadon, Rhys-Jones, Bower and Elliott - includes reference to pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions

Distinguishing between attention-deficit hyperactivity and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children: clinical guidelines

Journal article by Peadon and Elliott - refers to ADHD medications for children who also have FASD

ADHD and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Book by Kieran D. O'Malley Chapter 5 refers to ADHD medications for children who also have FASD

Medication used in the treatment of disruptive behaviour in children with FASD - A Guide

Journal article by Ozsarfati and Koren 

Medication effects on symptoms of ADHD in children with FASD

Journal article by Doig, McLennan and Gibbard refers to ADHD medications for children who also have FASD