One third of children with ADHD diagnosed before age of 6

Posted on September 7, 2015

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is prevalent in the US, with parental reports indicating that 11% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with the condition - approximately 6.4 million children.

This number has increased steadily in recent years, rising by 42% between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses data from the 2014 National Survey of the Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD and Tourette Syndrome (NS-DATA).

For this survey, information was obtained from the parents of children who had previously been identified as having ADHD or Tourette Syndrome. The parents were asked various questions concerning the child's diagnosis, who information was sought from and who first became concerned with the child's behavior.

Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that information used to make a diagnosis should come from a range of informants, such as parents, teachers and other adults who care for the child.

The researchers found that the first individual to become concerned with a child's behavior was most often a family member, although concern was expressed first by an adult at school or daycare for around one third of children.

In nearly all cases, health care providers discussed the child's behavior with their parents, and an adult from outside the family played a part in around 8 out of 10 diagnostic processes (81.9%). Around half of diagnoses were made by primary care physicians - typically pediatricians - although psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists were also involved in others.
Few valid diagnostic tools for children below the age of 6

An interesting age difference noted by the researchers was that children who first received their ADHD diagnosis from a psychiatrist were more likely to be under the age of 6 than older. Conversely, children first receiving their diagnosis from a psychologist were more likely to be older than 6.

There are concerns that when diagnoses are made at an early age, they could be made without comprehensively evaluating all available information. Before the age of 6, the researchers note that there are few valid diagnostic tools to support diagnosis.

However, the survey also indicates that physicians are utilizing the standard diagnostic methods where possible in the majority of cases. For 9 in 10 children with ADHD, health care providers used behavior rating scales or checklists to assess them for their condition.

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Category(s):Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Source material from Medical News Today