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Youngest Kids in Class More Apt to Get ADHD Diagnosis: Study
Date:3/5/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- A new Canadian study provides more evidence that too many young kids may be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, simply because they're younger than their peers in the same classrooms.

Researchers found that nearly 7 percent of boys aged 6 to 12 were diagnosed with ADHD overall, but the percentage ranged from 5.7 percent for those who were the oldest in their grade levels to 7.4 percent for the youngest. There was a similar gap for girls, although they're much less likely to be diagnosed.

The findings, which are similar to those from U.S. studies, don't prove definitively that any kids are being wrongly diagnosed with ADHD or being diagnosed purely because they're younger than their peers.

Still, "it's good for parents to know about this," said study author Richard Morrow, a health research analyst at the University of British Columbia. "In general, the younger you are within your grade, the more likely you are to receive this diagnosis and get treatment."

ADHD is a controversial developmental disorder, and there's been debate about whether it is overdiagnosed. The researchers launched the study to determine whether a student's age in relation to his or her peers may have something to do with the likelihood of diagnosis.

The study authors examined the records of over 930,000 kids in British Columbia who were between the ages of 6 and 12, during the time period from 1997 to 2008. They focused on differences between kids born in January (who'd typically be the oldest in their classes) and December (who'd typically be the youngest due to cut-off dates for school enrollment).

The level of ADHD diagnosis was lowest for kids born early in the year -- the oldest ones in their classes -- and highest for those born later in the year. Kids born in January and December had the lowest and highest rates, res
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