(The New York Times) – The rate of diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among children has nearly doubled in the past two decades. Rates of A.D.H.D. diagnoses also vary considerably across states, with nearly three times as many children getting the diagnosis in Kentucky (where one in five children are said to have the condition) as in Nevada. More than 5 percent of all children in the United States now take an A.D.H.D. medication. All this raises the question of whether the disease is being overdiagnosed.
Diagnosing A.D.H.D. is difficult. Unlike other childhood diseases — such as asthma, obesity and diabetes — the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. is inherently subjective and depends on the assessment of parents, school personnel and health care providers. For a child who is easily distracted, an assessment of normal, inattentive behavior by one could be a formal diagnosis of A.D.H.D. by another.
It turns out that although diagnosing A.D.H.D. requires a subjective interpretation of facts, the month in which a child is born can be a strong, objective predictor.Read More
(Psychiatric Times) – Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are often asked about the role that diet and nutrition play in ADHD etiology and symptom management. This article examines the contributory role of diet on ADHD symptoms, including how the elimination of certain foods and additives, as well as the consumption of other foods or nutrients, may impact symptoms. The role of nutrient supplementation will be reviewed as well, including the potential mechanisms behind why nutrient supplementation may alleviate some symptoms of the disorder.Read More
(Psychology Today) – A just published study by a team of researchers (which I am part of) has shown that it is the youngest children in the classroom who are most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. The systematic review was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Seventeen studies covering more than 14 million children from various countries were examined. Lead author Martin Whitley commented in the Daily Mail that “It appears that across the globe some teachers are mistaking the immaturity of the youngest children in their class for ADHD.” The study contributes to the central debate about ADHD and the question of medicalization: Do children diagnosed with ADHD have a brain disease?
Medicating the younger children in the classroom suggests that the medical community has mislabeled normal brain development as a pathology. If the ADHD children are simply the youngest children in the classroom, this would explain why researchers have not been able to develop an object test such as a brain scan, blood test, or genetic test to diagnose ADHD.
In spite of the fact that there are no biological markers that can be used to diagnose ADHD, official outlets can give the impression that this is the case. A recent brochure on ADHD from The National Institutes of Mental Health(NIHM) states that: “Brain-imaging studies have revealed that in youth with ADHD, the brain matures in a normal pattern but is delayed by about three years.” It continues, “More recent studies have found that the outermost layer of the brain, the cortex, shows delayed maturation overall.” It would be hard to fault the general public for concluding that brain scans can be used to identify ADHD. Not mentioned by NIMH is that the studies they refer to detected miniscule differences in a small group of children, and that the scans cannot be used in a doctor’s office to determine if a child should be diagnosed with ADHD.Read More
(Medscape) – Having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may raise the risk developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) and related disorders, results of a population-based study suggest.
Investigators found that patients with ADHD were more than twice as likely to develop early-onset Parkinson’s and PD-related disorders relative to matched individuals who did not have ADHD. The risk was sixfold to eightfold higher in ADHD patients prescribed stimulant medications.
“This link between ADHD and its treatment with psychostimulants and Parkinson’s disease–like disorders (PDLDs) has not been shown before,” senior author Glen Hanson, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, told Medscape Medical News.
“That there is a link between pediatric mental health problems (eg, ADHD) and their treatment (eg, stimulants) and neurodegenerative diseases (eg, PDLDs) that typically express in older, and even geriatric, populations is a relatively new and somewhat disturbing concept,” said Hanson.
The study was published online September 12 in Neuropsychopharmacology.Read More
Sometimes 11-year-old B. comes home from school in tears. Maybe she was taunted about her weight that day, called “ugly.” Or her so-called friends blocked her on their phones. Some nights she is too anxious to sleep alone and climbs into her mother’s bed. It’s just the two of them at home, ever since her father was deported back to West Africa when she was a toddler.
B.’s mood has improved lately, though, thanks to a new set of skills she is learning at school. (We’re using only first initials to protect students’ privacy.) Cresthaven Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., is one of growing number of schools offering kids training in how to manage emotions, handle stress and improve interpersonal relationships.Read More
The percentage of privately insured U.S. women aged 15 to 44 who filled at least one prescription for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications increased 344% between 2003 and 2015, according to data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The substantial increase in the percentage of reproductive-aged women filling ADHD medication prescriptions from 2003 to 2015, across age groups and U.S. geographic regions, is of public health concern given the high percentage of unintended pregnancies and uncertainty concerning the safety of ADHD medication exposure before and during pregnancy,” Kayla N. Anderson, Ph.D., and colleagues wrote.Read More
Our last blog reported on a study that found that a combination of micronutrients was effective in reducing aggression in children struggling with behavioural problems. Given that this finding replicated several previous studies over the last two decades, we wondered why the cumulative results weren’t impacting clinical practice.
Julia’s lab just published still another study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry confirming the importance of nutrients in reducing aggression, this time in children presenting with ADHD.
So what did this latest study find?Read More
The Journal of Pediatrics published a study that looks at the different types of treatment received by U.S. children, aged 4-17 years, diagnosed with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Experts recommend using both medicine and behavior therapy for children over 6 years of age and using behavior therapy as the first line of treatment for children under 6 years of age. CDC researchers found the most common treatment for ADHD is medicine, and the majority of children have not received any type of behavior therapy.
This study is relevant for healthcare providers and public health professionals so that they can understand possible gaps in treatments that families may experience. You can read a scientific summary of the study here.Read More
Could ADHD be a problem caused by a disruption in circadian rhythms?
It’s an area of research that some experts say holds promise for developing new treatments for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Many adults and children diagnosed with ADHD report sleep problems. Some have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and some develop sleep apnea.Read More