ADHD or immature? Depends on what month you’re born, finds study

© Rodi Said
Children are being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and could just be immature, according to a new study published in the Journal of Paediatrics.

The medical records of almost 400,000 children in Taiwan aged four to 17 were examined by researchers who found diagnosis of the condition differed depending on which month they were born.

ADHD is a behavioral disorder with symptoms including a poor attention span, impulsivity, and restlessness.

Dr Mu-Hong Chen, lead author of the report and psychologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, said children born in August were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and receive medication than those born in September.

Figures showed that 2.8 percent of boys born in the month of September were diagnosed with the disorder compared to 4.5 percent of boys born in August. For girls, 0.7 percent were diagnosed with ADHD in September and 1.2 percent in August.

“Relative age, as an indicator of neurocognitive maturity, may play a crucial role in the risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and receiving ADHD medication among children and adolescents,” Dr Chen said in the report. “Our findings emphasize the importance of considering the age of a child within a grade [school year], when diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication.”

READ MORE: Overmedicated from the cradle: More than 10k US toddlers prescribed drugs for ADHD

Jeff Emmerson, an American author who was misdiagnosed with ADHD, said he was “frustrated” with the lack of knowledge a lot of people had on the disorder during a Periscope discussion.

“I’m extremely frustrated with how little people know and are taught about these symptoms of ADHD and what to rule out first. I’m extremely frustrated after everything I’ve studied and researched and lived through and all the experts I’ve spoken to over years… Thousands of parents, educators and others - we deserve so much better than what’s happening right now and we cannot rush to a label.”