Author: David Urion, MD

More preschoolers with ADHD are taking medication, missing out on behavioral therapy

more-young-kids-with-ADHD-taking-medicationA recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that in 2015, 75 percent of children aged two to five years with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were receiving medication-based treatment, and only 50 percent received some form of behavioral therapy. This was true regardless of insurance type; that is, it was equally true for children covered by Medicaid as it was for children on private insurance.

The study raises concerns on many levels.

The data on treating older children are fairly clear regarding the benefits and risks of medication treatment for ADHD. The landmark trial showed better outcomes in those treated with medication and behavioral therapy as opposed to behavioral therapy alone, and side effects were infrequent and readily manageable or reversible. Similar high-quality, multi-center, blinded scientific studies in younger children have not been done.

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Clinical Consult: ADHD

ADHD
(StepanPopov/Shutterstock)

More than 50 years of epidemiologic research indicates that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 5 to 7 percent of the population. While there are “islands” of over-diagnosis—among boys, nonwhite children and children at the highest and lowest ends of the socioeconomic spectrum—most other ADHD is under-diagnosed, including in girls.

With time and care, ADHD can certainly be diagnosed and managed in a primary care setting. Pediatricians can be patients’ best advocates, helping children receive support services and appropriate testing and interventions at school. …Read More

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