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ADHD in Children Health Center

New Guidelines: Diagnose Kids for ADHD at Age 4

American Academy of Pediatrics Expands Age Range for Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
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Evidence for Medicating Preschoolers continued...

Wolraich is a professor of pediatrics and director of the child study center at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, in Oklahoma City. "It's clear from the studies that looked at medication use that there are a number of children that are being treated," Wolraich says. "We wanted to make sure that primary care physicians, if they were going to be evaluating children, were using the best evidence for both evaluation and recommendations for treatment."

Experts who were not involved in developing the guidelines agree.

"I think it's definitely a good thing," says Andrew Adesman, MD, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park. "Parents have been turning to pediatricians for guidance around behavior and attention concerns, not just in ages 6 to 12 but in preschool and adolescence."

"The American Academy of Pediatrics does identify a place for medication for preschool children, but it should be limited to children with moderate to severe symptoms, children who've had symptoms for nine months or longer, and children for whom behavioral therapy is no longer effective," he says.

ADHD in Teens

Previous guidelines stopped at recommending diagnosis or treatment of AHDH in kids older than age 12.

"There used to be a myth that kids grew out of ADHD. And the new evidence shows that's really not true, that kids don't grow out of it," Pierce tells WebMD.

Teens with ADHD may be overlooked because they're less likely than younger children to also be hyperactive.

But Pierce says treatment of ADHD in kids of all ages is vital because it causes a significant amount of suffering.

Kids with ADHD often have low self-esteem and turn into poor students. Risky and impulsive behavior makes them a danger to themselves. They are often dismissed by their peers and have trouble making friends.

"All of those kinds of things are things we try to prevent because those are the building blocks of adulthood, how you feel as a kid," she says.

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