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Study finds ADHD overdiagnosed

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11 Mar 2016

Children are being prescribed drugs to combat behavioural problems unnecessarily, according to a study


Researchers in Taiwan have looked at the medical records of nearly 400,000 children aged four to 17 and found rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) change significantly depending on the month when they were born.

The numbers of boys diagnosed with ADHD in August was 4.5 per cent, compared to 2.8 per cent a month later.

Just 1.8 per cent of girls born in September had the condition, but 2.9 per cent were diagnosed the month before.

Lead author of the study Dr Mu-Hong Chen said the findings show age could be a significant factor in the diagnosis of ADHD: “Our findings emphasise the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication to treat ADHD.”

According to the NHS website,the term is used to refer to a collection of behavioural problems linked to poor attention span including impulsiveness, restlessness and an inability to concentrate.

ADHD is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance.

It is common in the UK with around 400,000 British children, believed to have the condition.

Most cases are diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 12.

As well as learning difficulties, some youngsters may have problems such as sleep disorders.

Over the past decade in the UK, the number of prescriptions of drugs, such as Ritalin, used to try and help improve concentration has doubled to 922,000 a year.

Researchers in Australia have also found that children who struggle to go to sleep on their own and stay asleep are more likely to have problems adjusting to school.

The research from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) also found one in every three Australian children have escalating sleep problems from when they are born to the age of five.

They are advising parents to be persistent and consistent around sleep and bedtimes to prevent experiencing any future behavioural problems.

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