It was recently reported that the number of children suffering from ADHD (attention deficit disorder) is on the rise, especially among children under six years old. In fact, these rates have been going up at a fast pace over the last 20 years.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that one in three American children who suffers from this disorder is diagnosed before he or she turns six.
Furthermore, about 5.9 million children between 3 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD. This represents almost ten percent of the total number of kids and adolescents living in the United States.
The researchers involved in the study surveyed about 3,000 parents whose children had already been diagnosed with the disorder. They found out that about a third of them had been diagnosed before they were six either by their relatives or educators.
“The increased rate is probably tied to kids getting diagnosed younger. In general, there’s more awareness of the diagnosis, and once something’s accepted as a relatively common diagnosis, it becomes less stigmatized,” said Dr. Michael Troy, who is the Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services from Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
The symptoms that might indicate the child is suffering from this condition include anxiety and various emotional or learning problems, short attention span, inability to concentrate if the task is not interesting enough and poor academic performance.
However, other experts are concerned that even bigger problems might be caused by over-diagnosis. This is why health professionals shouldn’t rush into diagnosing a child with ADHD before a careful analysis of the behavioral patterns presented to them. Overmedication can be extremely dangerous, according to Dr. Danielle Fisher.
She prompts parents and other people who take care of such children to be extra careful and get opinions from various sources in order to avoid putting kids under the pressure of being labeled and undergoing sometimes exhausting treatment, especially at a young age.
The authors of the study also point out that it is important for health professionals, especially primary care doctors to gain access to various mental health resources. This is why primary care visits should be longer and more detailed.
If a child gets the right diagnosis from an early age, he or she can benefit from very useful treatment, that would eventually diminish the symptoms or even make them disappear in time. The treatment usually includes behavioral therapy and medication, depending on the severity of the case.
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