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Children Younger Than Peers in Class Are More Likely to Be Mis-Diagnosed



(p. A14) Diagnosing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is inherently subjective. New research highlights how this can get especially tricky with young children.

It shows that ADHD rates are significantly higher among children who are the youngest in their class compared with those who are the oldest.

ADHD is characterized by difficulty concentrating and constantly active, sometimes disruptive behavior. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, found that the youngest children in early elementary school grades have a 32% higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children.


. . .


"We're asking children to concentrate and focus when they don't really have the ability to concentrate and focus yet," says R. Scott Benson, a child psychiatrist in Pensacola, Fla. "We really want to be more careful, as we get more academic in these younger and younger grades, that we don't mistake a slight developmental delay as ADHD."


. . .


Tim Layton, an assistant professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School and first author on the study, says the research highlights the importance of pausing before calling a doctor about a child's unusual behavior. "In fact, it may be the case that that behavior is completely normal, even though it may be disruptive or make the teaching environment difficult," he says.



For the full commentary, see:

Sumathi Reddy. "YOUR HEALTH; The ADHD Diagnosis Problem." The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018): A14.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 3, 2018, and has the title "YOUR HEALTH; A Reason to Think Twice About Your Child's ADHD Diagnosis.")


The ADHD study mentioned above, is:

Layton, Timothy J., Michael L. Barnett, Tanner R. Hicks, and Anupam B. Jena. "Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and Month of School Enrollment." New England Journal of Medicine 379, no. 22 (Nov. 29, 2018): 2122-30.







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