HealthDay (3/6, Dotinga) reports that a study published March 5 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal “provides more evidence that too many young kids may be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or AD/HD, simply because they’re younger than their peers in the same classrooms.” Specifically, “researchers found that nearly seven percent of boys aged six to 12 were diagnosed with AD/HD overall, but the percentage ranged from 5.7 percent for those who were the oldest in their grade levels to 7.4 percent for the youngest. There was a similar gap for girls, although they’re much less likely to be diagnosed.”
For the study, investigators “followed more than 900,000 children living in British Columbia, Canada, where the cutoff for entry into kindergarten or first grade is Dec. 31 — meaning that children born in December would be close to a year younger than classmates born in January,” WebMD (3/6, Boyles) reports. “Compared to children whose birthdays were in January, boys born in December were about 30% more likely to be diagnosed with AD/HD,” while “girls born in December were 70% more likely to be diagnosed with AD/HD.”
MedPage Today (3/6, Neale) points out that “similar trends were seen for AD/HD medication prescriptions.” The study authors concluded, “Greater emphasis on a child’s behavior outside of school may be warranted when assessing children for AD/HD to lessen the risk of inappropriate diagnosis.” They added, “Further research into the determinants of AD/HD and approaches to its assessment and treatment should consider a child’s age within a grade.”
— “Youngest Kids in Class More Apt to Get ADHD ,” Randy Dotinga, Health Day, March 5, 2012.