The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 30 percent of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) received the diagnosis before or when they were 6 years old.
Although recent studies have pointed out that there may be a risk of over diagnosis in the U.S., the recent research underlines that the condition’s onset was observed at younger ages.
Moreover, recent official data show that 9.5 percent or nearly 6 million U.S. kids aged 3 to 17 live with the disorder.
During their study, researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 parents whose kids were diagnosed with ADHD. Most parents reported that they learned about the diagnosis when their kids were 7, but many young patients received the diagnosis before that age.
The findings may be shocking, but experts say that they were predictable.
Dr. Michael F. Troy, co-author of the study and researcher at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, explained that the rate is higher because more kids are brought to their pediatricians by their parents concerned about a probable diagnosis.
This situation is the logical result of awareness campaigns and the fact that society now better understands what the conditions really is and doesn’t stigmatize patients anymore. Additionally, because the condition is becoming increasingly common all the more it is accepted, Dr. Troy added.
But Dr, Troy is concerned about children diagnosed at an earlier age because their symptoms may be more aggressive. What’s more, younger kids are more likely to be expelled from educational institutions for their behavior than their older peers are.
For instance, ADHD children from daycare or preschool are often sent home so their parents handle the situation. This is unlikely to happen to a school-aged child, Dr. Troy argues.
Yet, there may be some false positive cases of ADHD, when the child is falsely diagnosed as having the condition. Dr. Troy believes that many symptoms are often took for ADHD symptoms because the disease is described in terms of how the patient behaves rather than in terms of what causes it.
“You could have a severe cough and it could be because of a lot of different reasons,”
Dr. Troy added.
Moreover, some children lose focus and cannot concentrate because of a combination of other factors not ADHD. For instance, many children display ADHD-like symptoms because of an emotional distress or anxiety caused by a flawed early caretaking or a high-risk birth.
The recent study also revealed that half of cases of ADHD were spotted by primary care doctors. This is why these physicians also need immediate access to mental health resources, Dr. Troy suggests.
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