Is It ADHD OR Is It Actually a Developmental Delay?

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New research highlights how diagnosing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in young children can get tricky.

A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that children who were the youngest in their grade in elementary school have a 32% higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.

The study looked at one subset of 10,000 children, and another group of 10,000 children that were 11 months younger than the first group. The results indicated that one-quarter of the younger children diagnosed with ADHD wouldn’t have been diagnosed if they were born earlier.

Why could this be? R. Scott Benson, a child psychiatrist in Pensacola, Florida, noted that “We’re asking [the younger] children to concentrate and focus when they don’t really have the ability to concentrate and focus yet.” These could just be developmental delays. Another doctor noted that “11-month age difference at age 5, when most children start kindergarten, represents nearly 20% of a child’s life.”

What’s worse is that an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD could mask another problem: sleep deprivation.

The rates of U.S. children diagnosed with ADHD have increased by more than 50% over the past decade. Hopefully, these findings will make clinicians more wary of the risk of ADHD misdiagnosis in children.

For more information on ADHD, check out our original series Navigating the Ambiguity of ADHD with Dr. Domenick Sportelli. I’m Kyle Kittleson, and remember, whatever you’re going through, you got this.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


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