ADHD or just immature?

March 10, 2016, Elsevier
Children with ADHD find it more difficult to focus and to complete their schoolwork. Credit: public domain image

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically diagnosed in childhood and manifests as an inability to sustain attention and control activity levels and impulse control. Some reports have indicated a prevalence of up to 15% in Western countries. Although the causes of ADHD are still unknown, a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics found that a child's age at school entry may have an effect on the diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr. Mu-Hong Chen and colleagues from Taipei and Taoyuan, Taiwan, examined cohort data from 378,881 children ages 4-17 years from 1997 to 2011 and evaluated the prevalence of being given a diagnosis of ADHD and/or prescribed ADHD medication. Using the Taiwanese annual cut-off birthdate of August 31 for school enrollment, the researchers compared the youngest children in a grade (those born in August) with the oldest (those born in September) and assessed whether age was associated with being diagnosed with ADHD and/or being medicated.

When looking at the database as a whole, children born in August were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and/or receive ADHD medication than those born in September. When broken down and analyzed according to age, only preschool or elementary school-aged children born in August had an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and receiving ADHD medication. However, adolescents born in August did not have an increased risk of ADHD diagnosis. This may imply that increasing age and maturity lessens the impact of birth month on ADHD diagnoses.

Worldwide, the number of children and adolescents being diagnosed with ADHD or receiving a prescription for ADHD has significantly increased. Evidence shows that relative age, which may be a proxy of neurocognitive ability, may increase the likelihood of ADHD diagnosis and medication. According to Dr. Chen, "Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication to treat ADHD."

Explore further: New study shows link between ADHD and vision impairment in children

More information: "Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD in Taiwanese Children," by Mu-Hong Chen, M.D., Wen-Hsuan Lan, M.D., Ya-Mei Bai, M.D., PH.D., Kai-Lin Huang, M.D., Tung-Ping Su, M.D., Shih-Jen Tsai, M.D., Cheng-Ta Li, M.D., Ph.D., Wei-Chen Lin, M.D., Wen-Han Chang, M.Sc., Tai-Long Pan, PhD., Tzeng-Ji Chen, M.D., PH.D., and Ju-Wei Hsu, M.D., appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.02.012

Related Stories

New study shows link between ADHD and vision impairment in children

February 26, 2016
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most frequently encountered neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, and a new study from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently published ...

CDC: More than one in 10 kids diagnosed with ADHD

November 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—More than one in 10 children and adolescents are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an increase of 42 percent in less than a decade, according to a study published online Nov. 25 ...

Children in foster care three times more likely to have ADHD diagnosis

October 23, 2015
Researchers already knew that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most common behavioral health diagnosis among children enrolled in Medicaid. A new study to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics ...

Research shows association among childhood ADHD, sex and obesity

February 4, 2016
The incidence of childhood and adult obesity has increased significantly over the past three decades. New research shows that there is an association between obesity development during adulthood and childhood attention deficit ...

Persistent ADHD associated with overly critical parents

February 8, 2016
For many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, symptoms appear to decrease as they age, but for some they do not and one reason may be persistent parental criticism, according to research published by the ...

ADHD medications associated with diminished bone health in kids

March 3, 2016
Children and adolescents who take medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show decreased bone density, according to a large cross-sectional study presented today at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American ...

Recommended for you

For children with ADHD, a brief, school-based program can help dramatically with homework problems, study finds

December 6, 2017
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who took part in a brief, school-based program displayed significant improvements in their homework, organization and planning skills, according to a new study led by ...

What can twitter reveal about people with ADHD?

November 9, 2017
What can Twitter reveal about people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD? Quite a bit about what life is like for someone with the condition, according to findings published by University of Pennsylvania ...

Brain imaging reveals ADHD as a collection of different disorders

November 8, 2017
Researchers have found that patients with different types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have impairments in unique brain systems, indicating that there may not be a one-size-fits-all explanation for the ...

Can adults develop ADHD? New research says probably not

October 20, 2017
Adults likely do not develop ADHD, according to new research by FIU clinical psychologist Margaret Sibley.

Nearly a third of college kids think ADHD meds boost grades

October 16, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many college students who abuse ADHD drugs mistakenly believe that doing so will lead to better grades, a new survey suggests.

School year 'relative age' causing bias in ADHD diagnosis, says research

October 9, 2017
Younger primary school children are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than their older peers within the same school year, new research has shown.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.