It seems like every day we're provided with a new scientific study citing facts and figures about children affected by Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That's likely because its prevalence in children is increasing at alarming levels. In 2016 the National Survey of Children's Health reported approximately 9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (that's 6.1 million) had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. With those numbers, there are many groups who want to get to the core of the issue -- what causes the condition and how we can either prevent it from affecting our kids or help them cope.
The latest study, performed by University College London psychiatrist Dr. Joanna Moncrieff and her team, points to evidence that kids who are the youngest in their respective class at school are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. This could prove to be a real sticking point for parents with kids who straddle school enrollment cut-off dates. Often times families are forced to decide whether it would be better to hold their child back a year, making them the oldest in class, or have them follow the dates set forth by their school district for which they make the cut for a specific enrollment period. It has never been an easy decision to make, and this news makes it even more difficult.
Moncrieff's team looked at 17 studies that incorporated more than 14 million kids in 12 different countries. They paid particular attention to how the ages of children in each class correlated with whether or not they were being diagnosed or treated for ADHD. This is how they concluded that children at the youngest end of the class age range were more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.
With this in mind, why would being the youngest among one's peers make a child more prone to an ADHD diagnosis?
Moncrieff thinks that their behavior could just be immaturity that is then mistaken for ADHD-related symptoms. In fact, this behavior could run its course, so to speak, and have no need for a label or medication.
The National Institute of Mental Health categorizes ADHD as a brain disorder characterized by a pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. These are issues that could seriously impair a child's effort to learn and function day-to-day, and shouldn't be ignored if it does actually present itself.
Concerned parents should consult a professional child psychologist before assuming their child has ADHD. An expert in the field can help provide guidance in how to cope and what the next steps should be in order to help a child with ADHD thrive.
That's news, and advice, we can get behind.