Youngest children in class diagnosed ADHD

Children born in December may be more prone to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), judging by new Canadian research. The study found youngsters born in this month - the last four-week period of their school year intake - were considerably more likely to suffer from the condition than those who arrived in January.

Entitled Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children, the investigation looked at boys and girls aged six to 12 and showed the late birthday effect to be significant, with December girls 70 per cent and 77 per cent more likely to have a diagnosis and prescription respectively.

For boys, this worked out at 30 per cent and 41 per cent - lower figures but ones that adhered to the underlying trend.

However, Martin Whiteley, a Western Australian politician who writes about ADHD on the website Speed Up and Sit Still, noted children often develop at different rates.

He observed: "If, as the ADHD industry frequently claims, ADHD is a neurobiological disease, a child's birth date should have no bearing on their chances of being diagnosed and medicated."

David Traxson, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Several studies have shown children who are young for their school year are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

"The consensus is that their slightly younger pattern of behaviour is misinterpreted as a problem that needs drugs. In fact it is natural as they are younger.

"We need to allow children to mature at different times and rates without pathologising these patterns.

"The publication of the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 2015 will make this worse, as it will bring in a plethora of new childhood conditions. Psychologists must actively resist this trend."

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