Nearly one million children may be wrongly diagnosed with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) simply because they are younger and less mature than their kindergarden classmates, according to a Michigan State University study appearing in the Journal of Health Economics.
The study also found that annual prescriptions for these misdiagnosed conditions run between 320 to 500 million dollars, with 80 to 90 million paid by Medicaid, a tax-payer-funded health insurance program for the poor.
Currently, the powerful psychostimulant Ritalin (methylphenidate) is the most common drug prescribed to treat ADHD. However, the study’s lead author Todd Elder, of Michigan State University, not much is known about the long-term effects of Ritalin.
For their study, Elder’s team studied some 12,000 young children. Their data revealed that “the youngest kindergarteners were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest children in the same grade. Similarly, when that group of classmates reached the fifth and eighth grades, the youngest were more than twice as likely to be prescribed stimulants” for ADHD.
Though official ADHD diagnosis is made only by doctors, Elder writes that, “many ADHD diagnoses may be driven by teachers’ perceptions of poor behavior among the youngest children in a kindergarten classroom.”
The problem, he says, is that “these ‘symptoms’ may merely reflect emotional or intellectual immaturity among the youngest students.”
The authors’ conclusions indicate that Americans are spending up to tens of millions of dollars needlessly medicating children, who are not sick, with powerful psychoactive drugs they do not need, and whose long-term effects remain unknown.
Parents with children diagnosed with ADHD, and who were the youngest in their kindergarden class, might want to consult a physician about what the study might men for their child’s diagnosis.
Read more: AFP
More top stories: San Francisco Health News Examiner
Mental health: What’s behind major celebrity meltdowns?
How healthy? Cold cuts now linked with bladder cancer
Can going off anti-depressants turn you into a nympho?
Safe? Scientists create first ‘artificial’ life from synthetic DNA
Raw milk, raw food popularity surges: Is the FDA fighting against our health?
Is your health insurer targeting you for cancellation?
Is your insurance company investing billions in fast food?
Ouch! Anti-rape device grabs more than just headlines
Breastfeeding can save hundreds of lives, billions of dollars each year
Cloth baby slings tied to infant deaths, injuries
Study shows women who drink alcohol gain less weight
Marijuana use among seniors sky high?
Is big soda the next big tobacco?
Supreme Court: No limits on medical pot possession
HIV scare rocks porn industry, sex practices under fire
Porn HIV scare? New cases rock adult film industry