A new study on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is generating a lot of discussion because of its revelatory finding — that August-born children are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD than their classmates.
The study adds weight to the argument that the growing number of ADHD diagnoses is tied to the timing of the exams. Because schools use Sept. 1 as the cutoff birth date for determining when a child starts kindergarten, children born in August are the youngest kids in the class, sometimes by as much as nearly an entire year. Younger children tend to have a harder time sitting still for long periods of time — which may contribute to an ADHD diagnosis.
“Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication to treat ADHD,” researchers wrote in their report, which was published earlier this month in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The study, conducted in Taiwan, looked at data from 378,881 children between 4 and 17.
Those with August birthdays were more likely to be labeled as ADHD than their older peers. In particular, boys born in August were the most likely group to be diagnosed and treated with medication, the study found.
Researchers also addressed the difficulty in diagnosing ADHD in children, noting in their report the element of subjectivity that is involved.
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