Opinion

Thiel: Study ponders over-diagnosis of ADHD in children

ADHD, also known as attention deficit hyper activity disorder, is probably the most talked about illness spoken of in pediatric psychiatry.

Dr. Fred Baughman, a neurologist, stated that 500,000 children in the U.S. were diagnosed ADHD in 1985 and between five and seven million were today, with prescription drug usage increasing accordingly.

He furthers by stating that it seems to be that ADHD is misdiagnosed and overly medicated.

The National Institute of Mental Health cites that two to three per cent of children have ADHD, according to their statistics.

There was a very interesting article published this month by Dr. Richard Morrow from the University of British Columbia in the Canadian Medical Association Journal posing this question: Is immaturity being misdiagnosed as ADHD?

In his study, Morrow found that the youngest students in the classroom were far more likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD than their older classmates.

The study involved over 900,000 Canadian children between the ages of 6 and 12 years of age.

He found that girls that were born in December were 70 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and girls born in the previous January. Boys born in December were 30 per cent more likely to be given this diagnosis. In B.C., the cut-off date for entry to school is the month of December.

He told Medscape that “it could be a lack of maturity in the youngest kids in the class is being misinterpreted as symptoms of a behavioral disorder” and that “potential harms of overdiagnosis and overprescribing and the lack of an objective test for ADHD strongly suggests caution be taken.”

This study stated that the potential for harm of over-treatment in these children could increase the risk of heart problems as well as having untoward effects on growth, sleep and appetite.

I’ve seen many children in my practice over the years. Some of them have been flagged as ADHD. Some of them truly have this disorder but the great majority did not. Often, I find the solution in appropriate supplementation and variations from their present diet.

The great majority of these children have been fed complex carbohydrates and sugars at breakfast time, lunch time and dinner time in addition to their sugary treats for the day. Some of these children do not necessarily have food allergies, but rather food sensitivities that are placing them in this hyperactive states.  The mainstream idea is to medicate these children permanently.

I think a thorough assessment of their diet and nutritional needs should first be assessed and, if need be, adjusted appropriately.

I’m reminded of a very well-meaning mother who brought her child into my clinic for treatment. He was seven and she was suffering from daily, debilitating headache. As an aside, he was diagnosed with ADHD.

His breakfast consisted of Pop Tarts, Tang and some kind of sugary-blastoramma cereal. He had processed food for lunch and a can of pop. He was receiving virtually no essential fatty acids in his diet and was profoundly minerally depleted.

Once we began to feed his brain and allow his physiology to normalize he was no longer considered an ADHD child.

He was first diagnosed with ADHD at the age of four.

I’m by no means implying that ADHD does not exist. I’m simply saying it does not exist to the extent that it has been postulated at present. This study by Dr. Baughman is worthy of consideration.

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