MONDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- It's better to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sooner rather than later to prevent a drop in performance at school, according to new research.
A delay in treatment appeared to make the biggest difference in math scores, and later treatment seemed to affect girls significantly more than boys, the study indicated.
"We found that earlier treatment rather than late may halt declining academic performance, especially in math, and especially for girls," said the study's lead author, Helga Zoega, a postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and the Center of Public Health Sciences at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
Results of the study were released online June 25, and are scheduled to be published in the July print issue of Pediatrics.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects between 5 percent and 10 percent of all children in the United States and Europe, according to background information in the study. The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health says that the primary symptoms of the disorder are hyperactive and impulsive behavior, and inattention. In general, girls tend to have more trouble with paying attention, while boys tend to be more hyperactive, said Zoega.
Stimulant medications have been shown to have a positive effect on children with ADHD, helping them to focus and helping youngsters control hyperactive and impulsive behavior. However, concerns about overuse, addiction, misuse and unknown long-term outcomes have led some parents to forgo or delay medication use.
To see what effects stimulant treatment had on academic progress, as well as to see if a delay in treatment made a difference, Zoega and her colleagues reviewed data from Iceland's national databases. Iceland retains records on 100 percent of prescription drugs dis
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