Rachel Crowell’s recent story on Fatherly.com highlights the results from a Norwegian study showing the youngest children in a classroom are much likelier to be diagnosed and medicated for ADHD:
“For parents of kids whose birthdays fall just before the school year cutoff, choosing when to let your children start school is a complicated decision. That cutoff, for many school systems in the United States, is Sept. 1. So what are kids with July or August birthdays to do? Are they better off if their parents enroll them the first year they’re technically eligible? Or are they more likely to thrive if they wait a year, making them the oldest kids in their class instead of the youngest? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, but recent research points to a key consideration: The youngest kids in a class are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication for it than their older peers.
“For the recent study, researchers examined data on all Norwegians born between 1989 and 1998, which includes more than 488,400 people. They then analyzed trends in the medications prescribed to these individuals between ages 10 and 23 in relation to when they were born in the year. (In Norway, children born in November and December are typically the youngest in their class, and those born in January and February are usually the oldest.)
“At ages 10 to 14, kids born at-term in the November-December group had 80% higher odds of being prescribed ADHD medication compared to those born in January-February, says study author Christine Strand Bachmann, M.D., a Ph.D. candidate in the nursing and public health department at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a pediatrician at St. Olav’s University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway….
“These trends aren’t isolated to Norway. ‘These relative age effects for ADHD medication have been shown from all over the world…from the Nordic countries, Asia, Western Europe, Canada, and the United States,’ Bachmann says. Only Denmark seems to be an outlier, which may be because 40% of the children born between October and December chose to delay the start of schooling by a year, Bachmann says. Or, as the Denmark study authors note, it could be because many people with ADHD in the country forego medication.”
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