Joseph R. NBH, MD FACOG, AACG. AACS, Medical Director, Natural Bio Health

How Common is the Diagnosis of ADHD?

A recent article in the Austin American Statesman report that  “1 in 5 high-school-age boys in the United States and 11% of school-age children overall have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” *The article mentioned that this a marked rise over the past decade and were concerned that many doctors  are over using the diagnosis and over prescribing. The percentage diagnosed in 2003  was about 7.8% of 4-17 years olds.  This increased to 9.5% in 2007 but up to 18% in 2010. ( about 6.4 million children)

The American Academy of Pediatrics Has Approved ADHD Drugs for
Children as Young as 4 Years of Age

 The Academy’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Include the following.

“For preschool-aged children (4–5 years of age), the primary care clinician should prescribe evidence-based parent- and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as the first line of treatment … and may prescribe methylphenidate [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Ritalin] if the behavior interventions do not provide significant improvement and there is moderate-to-severe continuing disturbance in the child’s function. In areas where evidence-based behavioral treatments are not available, the clinician needs to weigh the risks of starting medication at an early age against the harm of delaying diagnosis and treatment.”

For “older” children, ages 6-11 years of age, the language seems mandatory for drugs: 

“For elementary school–aged children (6–11 years of age), the primary care clinician should prescribe US Food and Drug Administration–approved medications for ADHD … and/or evidence-based parent- and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as treatment for ADHD, preferably both.”

Some Causes of ADHD  

Most experts believe that ADHD results from abnormal chemical levels in  the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attentions skills. A mother’s use of cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs during pregnancy may increase the risk for ADHD. Also, exposure to lead may cause symptoms associated with ADHD. Although many parents believe that foods with sugar and food additives make their children more hyperactive, these foods have not been shown to cause ADHD.

A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that certain parts of the brains of children with ADHD develop normally but about 3 years later than in children without ADHD. This may be why some children seem to grow out of the disorder. Some people have misconception about ADHD, such as those children with ADHD are lazy or dumb.

*THE TRUTH is that young boys tend to be very active in any case. Yet, in many schools, they have removed PE (physical exercise) and they expect young children to sit for long periods of time during the school day. This in spite of studies showing the brain of young males works more efficiently after exercise and even when or after movement. Unfortunately, we now find it “disturbing” that young boys want to move around too much or that they get antsy setting for long periods. We now call this “disruptive” and want them to set still – often by prescribing drugs. We then send them home from school with large amounts of homework (often “make-work”) or to set at computers playing games or in front of the ultimate baby sitter, the TV.

Increasing Diagnosis and Drug Prescriptions for Teenagers

*More teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the future because the American Psychological Association plans to change the definition of ADHD to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. More children will be prescribed drugs because the Academy of Pediatrics says it is OK. The drug companies will make more money thanks in part to the increasing audience and “diagnosis.”

Because of the long term effects of these drugs, is it wise to prescribe more drugs to more people? *Natural Bio Health professionals, along with many other health professionals, believe that we are already over-diagnosing ADHD and OVER-PRESCRIBING DRUGS. 

Diagnosis of ADHD

The American Psychiatric Association has established the symptoms and criteria for diagnosing ADHD.  There criteria divide the condition into three basic types:, predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type and combined type.

A typical session for a diagnosis should include an interview with the child and a medical history, including asking a parent about the child’s social, emotional, educational, and behavioral history. Also a physical exam and behavioral rating scales or checklists for ADHD, used by parents and teachers to evaluate the child’s symptoms, should be included. Problems that must be ruled out that are not ADHD are hearing or vision impairment, lead exposure, low red blood cells counts (anemia) and thyroid disease. *Unfortunately, a prescription is often obtained by the parent just saying: “My son (or daughter) does not seem to be able to focus in class” or “they acts disruptive.”

Treatments and Side Effects of Drugs Prescribed Children with ADHD

About 2/3 of young children receive prescriptions for stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall. But these medications can also lead to addiction, anxiety and psychosis. Although some welcome a broader level of diagnosis, many, including myself, are concerned that millions of children may be taking medication merely to calm behavior or to do better in school.

*Pills that are shared with or sold to classmates, gaining traction in high-achieving schools, are particularly dangerous because of their health risks when abused. I think it is incumbent for both the parents and professionals to make every effort to make a proper diagnosis so as not to label a person ADHD when they are not.

*Also, we should not make a diagnosis and not provide other, natural remedies that do not negatively affect the child the rest of their lives. We have several natural supplements that have been shown to help in the treatment of ADHD and should be considered before resorting to the more habit forming and dangerous drugs that are now available.

6 Different Types of ADHD

In 1991, Dr. Amen discovered that ADHD is not a single or simple disorder. Dr. Amen has identified 6 different types of ADHD that responded differently to different treatments. As he has noted, each type of ADHD/ADD responds differently to different treatment regimens.

*At Natural Bio Health, we have different combinations of pharmaceutical grade natural products to combined with lifestyle recommendations (for example reduce or even eliminate sugar) to treat each type. We first discover what pattern is present and work to address the specific symptoms of the INDIVIDUAL. Neurofeedback and Heart Rate Variability treatment has also shown to be helpful. None of these have adverse affects  nor do they cause long term damage to the brain as do many drugs.

*Many factors can contribute to symptoms that result in a “diagnosis” or labeling  of ADD or ADHD. However, the labeling of a young child or young adult as ADD OR ADHD followed by the prescribing of a drug should not be an “automatic” answer. This is not to say it is inappropriate in all cases but it should not be the primary course of action. Our children depend on us to keep them safe and “do them no harm.”

Gifted and Talented Or ADHD?

“Many of the traits noted in children with ADHD are also seen in children who are gifted or talented. This can result in over-identification of students with ADHD, the under-identification of gifted students, and the mis-education of both.” Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D.

Some children are both gifted and talented and have ADHD. The person with ADHD finds it difficult to control or in neurological terms “inhibit” impulses. Therefore, he or she may pay attention to multiple things in the environment. Dr. Schultz notes that the gifted and talented also pay attention to lots of things but understands and organizes what he or she hears, sees or touches. Many find school boring because it is not challenging at their level. Both may be bored or dislike school but for different reasons.

According to Dr. Schultz, “the a person without ADHD takes in information, analyzes it, categorizes it, discards irrelevant data and integrates the new data with stored information in an instant. On the other hand, the person who is impulse-driven flits from stimulus to stimulus, much like a steel ball in a pinball machine — sometimes reacting to a stimulus, sometimes performing an action on purpose, but most often acting in a random, unplanned fashion.”

In any case, do not assume your child (or YOU) have ADHD (or ADD) without rigorous testing.

ADHD: Has Your Child Been WRONGLY Diagnosed?

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