Study: Mistreatment for Tots with ADHD

Guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics call for the use of behavioral therapy first rather than medication for pre-school age children with ADHD. Yet nearly half of all preschoolers (46.6%) diagnosed with the disorder take medication alone or do so in conjunction with behavioral therapy.

Those stunning findings, published this week in the Journal of Pediatrics are from the first National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs using data gathered from 2009-2010. The research included 6.4 million children ages 4-17 years old with an ADHD diagnosis.

Key Findings

According to an article in The Washington Post, “The first national survey of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder shows that nearly half of pre-schoolers are on medication for the condition, and more than a fifth were receiving neither of the recommended therapies.”

Other results from the study of preschool children with ADHD include the following:

  • 53.2% of preschool-age children have used behavioral therapy in the previous year
  • 21.4% did not receive either behavioral therapy or medication

Although the study does not provide explanations for the findings, Steven Cuffe, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine, theorized that “there may be an issue with availability of behavioral treatments for pre-schoolers….That [number receiving behavioral therapy] should be higher.”

In addition, the study found that a substantial number of preschoolers (15.3%) were taking dietary supplements for the disorder. This despite the fact that there are no proven dietary treatments for ADHD, notes Steven Cuffe.