Children who reach the age of 5 just before starting kindergarten are much more likely to suffer from attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder than their older classmates. The finding reinforces concerns that the common neurodevelopmental disorder may be overdiagnosed.
"We think that … it's the relative age and the relative degree of immaturity of children born in August in a given class that increase the risk of diagnosing ADHD," says Anupam Jena, doctor and physician. economist at Harvard Medical School. .
Jena and her colleagues analyzed the insurance application data of more than 407,000 children born between 2007 and 2009. In states that require children to be 5 years old by September 1st to start kindergarten , children born in August were 34% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. those born almost a year earlier in September – just after the deadline. For the month of August, 85.1 children out of 10,000 were diagnosed with ADHD, compared to 63.6 out of 10,000 for children in September, according to researchers on November 29th. New England Journal of Medicine.
People with ADHD usually have symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are severe enough or frequent enough to affect their daily lives. In 2011, 11% of American children aged 4 to 17 years were diagnosed with ADHD, a rate higher than most other countries. Differences between states also suggest overdiagnosis, according to Jena, "unless something as different concerns children from one state to another." For example, nearly 19% of children aged 4 to 17 would have been diagnosed in Kentucky, this rate was about 12 percent in neighboring West Virginia.
"Better recognition of ADHD is a good thing" as this condition can lead to lower academic achievement, poor social skills and substance abuse, says Stephen Hinshaw, clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley , not involved in the study. . But a brief visit to the office can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis, he says, if other factors or conditions are not excluded.
"Children grow up at different rates," says Hinshaw. Many problems in childhood, from anxiety to overcrowded classroom management, may resemble ADHD.
"We do not want to overreact to inattention, lack of concentration, impulsive behavior and excessive activity," he said. "We need to understand the other skills of the child."