ADHD num­bers are ris­ing, and sci­en­tists are try­ing to un­der­stand why

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Diet - By Rachel Bluth

THE NUM­BER of chil­dren di­ag­nosed with at­ten­tion­d­eficit/hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD) has reached more than 10 per cent, a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease dur­ing the past 20 years, ac­cord­ing to a new study. But the re­searchers say they found no ev­i­dence con­firm­ing fre­quent com­plaints that the con­di­tion is over­diag­nosed or mis­di­ag­nosed. Said Wei Bao, the study’s lead au­thor: “I don’t think over­diag­no­sis is the main is­sue.”

None­the­less, those doubts per­sist. Stephen Hin­shaw, who co-au­thored a 2014 book called “The ADHD Ex­plo­sion: Myths, Med­i­ca­tion, Money, and To­day’s Push for Per­for­mance,” com­pared ADHD to de­pres­sion. He said in an in­ter­view that nei­ther con­di­tion has un­equiv­o­cal bi­o­log­i­cal mark­ers, which makes it hard to de­ter­mine whether a per­son has the con­di­tion. Symp­toms of ADHD can in­clude inat­ten­tion, fid­gety be­hav­iour and im­pul­siv­ity.

“It’s prob­a­bly not a true epi­demic of ADHD,” said Hin­shaw, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley and a pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cisco. “It might be an epi­demic of di­ag­nos­ing it.” In in­ter­pret­ing their re- sults, the study’s au­thors tied the higher num­bers to bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the con­di­tion by doc­tors and the public, new stan­dards for di­ag­no­sis and an in­crease in ac­cess to health in­sur­ance through the ACA.

The study, pub­lished in JAMA Net­work, used data from the Na­tional Health In­ter­view Sur­vey, an an­nual fed­eral sur­vey of about 35,000 house­holds. It found a steady in­crease in di­ag­noses, from about six per cent of chil­dren be­tween 1997 and 1998 to more than 10 per cent be­tween 2015 and 2016. The study also sug­gests that fewer stig­mas about men­tal-health care in mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties may lead to more peo­ple re­ceiv­ing an ADHD di­ag­no­sis. Over the past sev­eral decades, Hin­shaw said, there has been an ex­panded view of who can de­velop ADHD. – Wash­ing­ton Post.

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