Study – ADHD Hugely Misdiagnosed, Many Children Are Just Immature

Many children are needlessly prescribed drugs to combat ADHD when they are just immature, according to new study

Study - ADHD Hugely Misdiagnosed, Many Children Are Just Immature

Many children are being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and they could just be immature, according to a new study published in the Journal of Paediatrics.

About 3 – 7% of children in Britain are believed to have ADHD,  with many of them being prescribed drugs to try and improve their concentration at school.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder with symptoms including a poor attention span, impulsivity, and restlessness.

Some neuroscientists believe the condition does not exist at all and argue that most people will display some, or all of the signs during their lifetime.


The Telegraph reports:

Prescriptions for drugs like Ritalin have doubled to 922,000 a year in the last decade for children diagnosed with ADHD but such medications can cause adverse reactions such as weight loss, liver toxicity, and suicidal thoughts, and in the short term may suppress pubertal growth.

Now a study of nearly 400,000 children between four and 17 years old in Taiwan has shown that the percentage of youngsters diagnosed with ADHD significantly changes depending on month of birth. Where just 2.8 per cent of boys born in September have the condition, the figure jumps to 4.5 per cent in August, rising steadily over the school year. For girls it rose from 0.7 to 1.2 per cent.

They authors say that many cases may be caused by teachers comparing the behaviour of more mature children to those of youngsters who are up to a year younger.

“Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder. ADHD begins in childhood and manifests as an inability to marshal and sustain attention and modulate activity level and impulsive actions,” said lead author Dr Mu-Hong Chen, of the Department of Psychology at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan.

“When looking at the database as a whole, children born in August were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and/or receive ADHD medication than those born in September.

“Relative age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, may play a crucial role in the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and receiving ADHD medication among children and adolescents.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication to treat ADHD.”

A recent survey of Cambridge University students revealed that one in ten has taken drugs such as Ritalin
A recent survey of Cambridge University students revealed that one in ten has taken drugs such as Ritalin

The NHS describes the disorder as being ‘a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness’.

Common symptoms include a short attention span, restlessness or constant fidgeting and being easily distracted, the health service says.

Many people with ADHD also have learning difficulties and other problems such as sleep disorders. The condition is normally diagnosed between the ages of three to seven.

However some neuroscientists believe the condition does not exist at all arguing that most people will display some, or all of the sighs during their lifetime.

Dr Kuben Naidoo, consultant psychiatrist and chairman of ADHD Foundation, said: “The study highlights the importance of ensuring the assessment for ADHD is rigorous and relies on a variety of sources of information that support the clinician in deciding whether the diagnosis is met.

In the UK setting the assessment and diagnosis of ADHD across the lifespan is robust and relies on information gathered from a number of sources including the family and school.

This is then coupled with information obtained from a clinical interview by a specialist paediatrician or psychiatrist. The option to treat with medication is not taken lightly and consideration is also given to psychological strategies to support the individual. This decision on the type of treatment would be influenced by the degree of impairment experienced by the individual.

The issue is not as simple as assuming that age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, influences ADHD symptoms as we do see a significant number of adults presenting to psychiatric services for the first time with symptoms of ADHD.”

  • johnnybe

    what else could it be– attention deficit– orh yeh- and who’s telling the story– did they play a part-:-)- like are they boring? No just joking — but you never know– gotta look at all the possibilities- who’s pointing the finger- do/can they command attention- is the child too much child–immature– which is the same for any mental condition- how much of a part does immaturity play in all problems of the mind- how much is environmental- how much is the example they’ve been set- their socialisation- their circumstances- then their personality- and ies- it takes two to tango and one to point a finger–lol- and is not having grasped the information or understanding of behaviour protocol adhd– I think not- sorry I know not- never used to be either– and as far as adults turning up with adhd– they come from a time where it – attention deficit–was just someone with preoccupied thinking – in our community– we tolerated- people living in their heads – more than someone else- either way it wasn’t a mental illness- so these are developed mind states–with tags now– that have always been out there- just that we’ve got a tag and a pill for them now– and they didn’t know- but now do– well some of them anyway– call it lack of information- maybe even a lack of seeing -holding onto information — because of immaturity– or a preoccupation- in a mind- that’s developed over time– or in a child possibly starting its course– but for both there are always many reasons- and many solutions- cognitive based therapies- a pill if they’re that way inclined and too far into it for just talk-and only maybe- and only short term preferably- habits can be undone- with the right words/ information- from the right people-in and over time- and with children- just get real about it- a kind child in school- is a kinda child in school- not a hyper active child- just a kinda child in a classroom- unless your angry at the child- or not being real about the childs age and

    development– and you have a great need to point your finger- which i think is often done out of spite by a teacher reporting the child that he or she couldn’t attain the attention of- and how they have interfered with the special kids learning- that the special teachers trying to teach– all that kind of stuff–insecurities- angst–intoleramce–immaturity gets kids tagged and drugged