Children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may simply be just more immature than their school classmates, a new study has found.
Scientists discovered that the youngest children in a given school year have higher probabilities to be diagnosed with ADHD.
They explained that the so-called "developmental immaturity" may be one of the influencing factors during a child's assessment for ADHD.
"Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade [school year] when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication," says lead author Dr. Mu-Hong Chen from Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan.
Does Birth Month Matters?
To investigate on the matter, the researchers studied data of 378,881 children aged four to 17 years old, who are all studying in a school in Taiwan. They found that the rates of ADHD vary significantly depending on the children's birth month.
The findings of the study show that ADHD was diagnosed more in children who were born in August than in September.
The statistics show that ADHD was noted in 2.8 percent of boys and 1.8 percent of girls whose birth month is September, while for August-born kids, the rates are 4.5 percent in boys and 2.9 percent in girls.
Chen says their data bank as a whole shows that children born in August are more likely than September-born kids to receive an ADHD diagnosis or be prescribed with an ADHD drug.
When the numbers were broken down by age, however, the team found that teenagers born in August do not have an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD. Such finding signifies that birth month does not have anything to do with being diagnosed with ADHD as children advance in age.
Impacts On Treatment
The relative age of children as a parameter for neurological and cognitive maturity may have a vital part in the risk of receiving an ADHD diagnosis and in being prescribed with medication among young children and teenagers.
ADHD Foundation's Kuben Naidoo says the research emphasizes the essentiality of performing in-depth assessment and looking at different sources of data in assessing children with possible ADHD.
ADHD Rates Around The World
ADHD is the leading behavioral condition in the UK. Although the exact numbers are not yet clearly established, estimates suggest that it affects about two percent to five percent of school-aged children and young people.
In the US, the American Psychiatric Association says that about five percent of children have the disorder. However, the rates vary per state as it can go as low as 5.6 percent in Nevada to as high as 18.7 percent in Kentucky.
ADHD is also controversial, with some critics saying that the increasing rates of the disorder boils down to social factors instead of more efficient diagnosis of a biological status.
In France, the rate of ADHD is only about 0.5 percent due to people not heavily recognizing it as a biological condition.
Children with ADHD are most commonly characterized by short attention span, restlessness, overactivity, impulsiveness and frequent fidgeting, among others. ADHD affects children regardless of the level intellectual capability, but as per reports, the disorder is more common among people with learning difficulties.