Treating ADHD early may prevent problems at school

Children who receive treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a younger age subsequently perform better at school and on national tests than those children who do not receive treatment until they are older.

Researchers from America and Iceland worked on a collaborative study at the School of Medicine in New York, examining prescription drug records and test scores from 13,000 Icelandic elementary and middle school children between 2003 and 2008. The purpose of the research was to establish of treatment interventions were made at a young age whether this had any long term effects on functional outcomes, in this case academic performance.

The study concluded that maths and language test scores of children without any symptoms of ADHD were consistent at the two testing points. Children diagnosed with ADHD who began medicated treatment at an older age demonstrated a nine percent decline in functional outcomes; their scores declined considerably between the two testing points of the study. These results were particularly significant in girls.

According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) five percent of school aged children meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

From this latest research, it is clear to see that there is a benefit from diagnosing and treating ADHD earlier. However, commonly prescribed medication options are stimulants including Ritalin, Vyvanse and Concerta are new medications that have largely unknown long term side effects. Therefore, it may be worth considering less invasive treatments such as changing diet, mindfulness, parental training or behaviour therapy before more radical interventions are taken.

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