Taiwanese researchers found that kids born in August are at the highest risk of being diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), while children born in September had the lowest risk.
The research team found that males born in August had a considerably higher risk of being diagnosed with the chronic condition (4.5 percent) than boys born a month later (2.8 percent). In girls, the figure spiked from 0.7 to 1.2 percent.
And scientists believe that they have an explanation to the phenomenon: many teachers tend to compare kids that are a year younger, and therefore more immature, to their more mature peers. So, the former are often diagnosed with ADHD by default.
Study authors caution that many ADHD cases may be false alarms, needlessly forcing healthy kids into taking ADHD medication. The most common symptoms for the condition are short attention span, constant fidgeting, and impulsiveness. But these could also be signs of an emotionally immature child, the team suggests.
In the U.S., more than 6 million children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with the disorder. Currently, 6.1 percent of U.S. kids are on ADHD medication. In the last eight years, ADHD cases have skyrocketed 42 percent, a CDC report shows.
Prescription drugs do not cure the condition. They just help kids concentrate better in class. Nevertheless, the risks may outweigh benefits since many ADHD drugs have been linked to unwanted weight loss, emotional instability, liver disease, and suicidal thoughts.
Dr Mu-Hong Chen, senior researcher involved in the study and psychologist with the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, explained that ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental condition in small children.
Dr. Chen noted that kids born in August were at a higher risk of being misdiagnosed and even given an unnecessary ADHD treatment. But the age of the child is also important when assessing their development.
Relative age is a major parameter pinpointing maturity, so educators and clinicians should take into consideration the kids’ age related to grade before issuing a diagnosis or resorting to medication.
Kids affected by ADHD often have trouble falling asleep and they learn new things with great difficulty. But because the symptoms are so universal, some scientists argue that the condition is purely imaginary since most people display (some of) the symptoms at some point in their lives.
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