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'Immature' kids more likely to get ADHD drugs

Published: 10 May 2012 11:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 May 2012 11:32 GMT+02:00

Children in Sweden diagnosed with attention deficit disorders like ADHD may simply be immature in comparison to their peers, according to new statistics.

Figures from Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) show that children born late in the year are diagnosed with - and prescribed drugs for - ADHD much more often than children born earlier in the year.

In Sweden, children who are born in the same calendar year all start school together meaning that kids born in November and December are among the youngest in their classes when they enroll in school.

Thus children who are seen to have trouble focusing in school may be having a hard time, not because they suffer from ADHD, but because they have yet to develop to the same extent as peers born earlier in the year, the statistics suggest.

"It might simply be immaturity. Boys born late in the year can't handle the demands of school," Björn Kadesjö, a paediatric psychiatrist at Sahlgrenska hospital in Gothenburg, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The figures show, for example, that boys born in December have a 34 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD compared to children born in the first six months of the year.

Data from Sweden's prescription drugs registry tells a similar story: 35 percent more boys who are born in December are prescribed medication to combat ADHD symptoms than the average for kids born in the first half of the year.

The trend is similar for girls born in Sweden, although the differences are less pronounced, DN reported.

Another striking conclusion from the prescription drugs registry is that children born in the last three days of the year are 39 times more likely to be given drugs to treat ADHD compared to children born in the first three days of the year.

Other studies have shown that regardless of when children begin school during the calendar year, it is younger children who are often diagnosed with ADHD.

Kadesjö believes that children wouldn't have as many problems when they start school if schools were better at making adjustments based on each child's own individual needs.

He explained that when families seek help for children suspected of suffering from some form of ADHD, they have often struggled with the problem for years and children have already been labeled as troublemakers.

"A positive daily situation at school would be optimal, but that's not something that has been created and so the child needs to seek help and sometimes a little medicine can help," he told DN.

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Your comments about this article

17:01 May 10, 2012 by Douglas Garner
So... is this an argument for holding back any child who exhibits intellectual immaturity? Changing the enrollment date would only shift the problem. Do they suggest that we should set a schedule which provides several start points during the year? How about allow a school system that allows children that achieve results to move ahead and leave the others behind? Not very Swedish, I realize, but wouldn't it allow less mature children to find an appropriate level?
21:53 May 10, 2012 by john glennon
This echos research in the US. It's far more than just changing the enrollment date; it implies that we're medicating and labeling children just because of immaturity, not because they necessarily have ADHD.
04:16 May 11, 2012 by Grokh
every kid in sweden is diagnosed with adhd or add, and most of them have nothing wrong or hyper active about them, they are just kids.

specially when they can listen to music browse the web play a game watch video and play guitar at the same time they sit at the computer and eat... thats not ADD lol
16:51 May 11, 2012 by anestoiter
Yes, medication is important. But why nobody looks at physics all around us. Our body is a physical entity and it is connecting to the outside world, also made from physical elements, through physics. If you look at ADHD through this perspective, new understandings will begin to form, including new and unusual solutions. I examined this topic and wrote a book on it. There is a whole new world of tangible/physical entities all around us and it provides its own set of solutions, that are no less promising and effective than medication.

With education and experience in mechanical engineering, I got dipped into the world of medicine. This cross-breeding produced unusual, unforeseen views on the world around. Things that had no solution began showing answers, unusual, but potent answers to problems that prior to me were viewed as exclusively medical or psychological. As it turns out, these problems are also physical in nature and beg for physical solutions. Fascinating what you can discover when you view the world through a new perspective. Yes, there are solutions to ADD/ADHD, only they don't come in the form of a pill, or genetic fixing.
17:04 May 11, 2012 by Douglas Garner
@anestoiter Is your book published, and if so what is the name and where can it be ordered or accessed?
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