Active Children Are Being Overdiagnosed With ADHD a New Study Finds

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( — March 12, 2016) — Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a term used to describe behavioral problems in children who lack attention, focus, and who display impulsiveness and restlessness. The disorder prevents the child from adapting and controlling their behavior according their age.

As soon as this type of behavior had been classified as a disorder with medicinal origins, pharmaceutical companies started developing medication to treat it. However, consulting a child psychologist may provide additional support and guidance for families navigating these challenges.Ever since then, pediatricians widely diagnose ADHD, prescribing medicine to children, even in cases when the child is simply younger, more active or less mature than the rest of the class, a new study that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics has said, the UK Telegraph reports.

There is now an “epidemic” of ADHD worldwide and pharmaceutical companies are earning billions. Prescriptions for drugs like Ritalin have doubled to 922,000 a year in the last decade for children diagnosed with ADHD, the report said, arguing that such medication can cause adverse reactions such as weight loss, liver toxicity, and suicidal thoughts, and in the short term may suppress pubertal growth.

A new study of nearly 400,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17 in Taiwan has shown that the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD is disproportionately higher in younger children. Children who are a year younger are often pushed into the same class as older kids because of their birth date, combined with their parent’s ambitions.

“Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder,” said lead author of the study Dr Mu-Hong Chen, of the Department of Psychology at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication to treat ADHD,” he said, adding that conditions such as learning difficulties and sleep disorders, that are characteristic often found in ADHD patients, are normally diagnosed between the ages of 3 to 7.

“The issue is not as simple as assuming that age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, influences ADHD symptoms as we do see a significant number of adults presenting to psychiatric services for the first time with symptoms of ADHD,” said Dr Kuben Naidoo, consultant psychiatrist and chairman of ADHD Foundation.

The option to treat with medication is not taken lightly and consideration is given to
psychological strategies to support the individual, pediatricians argue.