Should Young ADHD Children be Medicated?

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  July 7, 2012 at 1:53 PM Health Watch
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Children with ADHD who start medications as early as fourth grade may be able to score better academically than those who start medications in middle school.

This has been established in a recent study published in the Journal, Pediatrics.
Should Young ADHD Children be Medicated?
Should Young ADHD Children be Medicated?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder and is usually diagnosed by age 7. Children with ADHD have problems with focusing and exhibit erratic behavior. They are easily bored, unable to sit still, very fidgety and hyperactive.

ADHD is usually managed with psychotherapy, education plans, behavioral interventions, parental training and medications. These interventions may be carried out first or they may be used in combination with medications. Experts say that medication must not be used as a substitute for other treatments.

Nearly 12,000 Icelandic children who were born between 1994 and 1996 formed the subjects of the study. Each of these ADHD children began taking medications sometime between their fourth and seventh grades.

It was observed that by the time the children reached the seventh grade, those who had started on their medications by their fourth grade showed a mere 0.3 percent drop in their math score, in comparison to a 9 percent drop among children who began taking medications around the sixth or seventh grade.

The girls in the study group showed improvement in math after they began their medications while the boys showed improvement in both math and language arts.

"Performance of kids with ADHD tends to decline over time, especially if medication is delayed," remarked Helga Zoega, the lead author of the study and epidemiologist at the Institute for Translational Epidemiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "Starting medication earlier may halt this decline."

The study did not reveal whether the children received other forms of ADHD intervention besides medications, and if these treatments played a role in enhancing their performances.

Says Dr. Stefani Hines, director of the Center for Human Development at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, "Although ADHD medications do not make a child smarter, they do improve those target symptoms that can hinder academic performance and progress, namely distractibility, attentional weaknesses, and impulsivity."

ADHD diagnosis in children has increased 22 percent between the years 2003 to 2007, and has continued to steadily increase. This rise in diagnosis has lead to the usage of certain medications among these children including Ritalin and Adderall. Parents and doctors have always been anxious about the use of these medications in young children and wondered if the drugs need to be used in them.

"This study showed that for kids with ADHD, early intervention is beneficial for them.....The important thing is the drug reaches the kids who need it at the right time," Zoega said.

ADHD diagnosing is very challenging because it has many subtypes and symptoms. But the diagnosis is very crucial to its management. An accurate diagnosis guarantees the best response to treatment. For this reason, it is essential to categorize different symptoms more accurately in the future and create more exact subtypes for better ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

References :

Source: Medindia

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