One-third of US children aged 4-5 who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD are being prescribed central nervous system stimulant drugs, and one-quarter are taking the drugs while not being given any behavioral therapy at all, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
“That is an astounding number, when you stop and consider that a preschooler’s brain is still under active development,” commented John Grohol on PsychCentral. “Prescribing stimulants to such a young child’s brain is a bad idea, given we have no longitudinal, long-term studies demonstrating that these medications won’t be harmful in a child’s development.”
In the study, the researchers used parent-reported data from the 2009-2010 US National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Overall, 74.0% of children aged 4-17 had received medication treatment in the previous week, while 44.0% had received behavioral therapy in the previous year.
Visser, Susanna N., Rebecca H. Bitsko, Melissa L. Danielson, Reem M. Ghandour, Stephen J. Blumberg, Laura A. Schieve, Joseph R. Holbrook, Mark L. Wolraich, and Steven P. Cuffe. “Treatment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder among Children with Special Health Care Needs.” The Journal of Pediatrics 0, no. 0. Accessed April 12, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.02.018. (Abstract) (Full text)
Too Many Preschoolers Getting Medications for ADHD (PsychCentral, April 3, 2015)