AAP Guidelines help check ADHD in Preschoolers Says Study

The treatment regulations introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2011 regarding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschoolers emphasized on behavioral therapy instead of mindless prescription of drugs. A recent study shows that the guidelines are now bearing results. According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics in November 2016, the diagnosis of ADHD in preschoolers has gone down significantly.

Another positive effect of these regulations is that even the prescription of stimulant drugs to these tender-aged patients has remained steady all this while, the researchers said.

The AAP guidelines directed that behavior therapy should be the first-line treatment for preschoolers instead of the standard norm of writing drugs.

Speaking about the situation earlier, research author Dr. Alexander Fiks, an associate medical director at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that people, especially the parents, voiced their concern because preschoolers were given a lot of medication for their behavioral issues. Moreover, the rate of behavioral diagnosis was high in them. The findings revealed that prior to the guidelines, 0.7 percent children aged 4 to 5 years were diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers examined the data of more than 87,000 children for their study.

They noticed that of the children diagnosed with ADHD, almost 30 percent diagnosis was done during the preschool years. And as many as 47 percent of them were intervened with medicines alone or with a combination of medicine and behavior therapy.

New guidelines helped change the scenario

When the researchers looked at the scenario after the implementation of the guidelines, they noticed some positive developments in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD among children.

Among more than 56,000 children, 0.9 percent were diagnosed with ADHD, but the prescription rate of stimulant drugs like Ritalin did not seem to soar and remained static at 0.4 percent among those diagnosed with ADHD.

What is reassuring according to Fiks is that despite a speculation of a spurt in cases, it leveled off and the prescribing of medication also remained constant throughout after the introduction of the regulations. He further noted that pediatricians religiously followed the guidelines to deliver such an outcome.

However, there is another view to this introduction of the aforementioned guidelines. Not everyone has readily extolled them for bringing out any positive benefits. One such skeptic, neuropsychologist Brandon Korman from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, said, “It really doesn’t look like the guidelines have had much of an effect.” He sees a problem in pediatricians not regularly referring kids for behavior therapy and is concerned with the fact that there is a scant population of qualified therapists who can treat every child qualifying for intervention.

ADHD starts at an early age that can come in the way of a child’s development, if not addressed at the outset. Since it is treatable and one can go on to excel in any field in life, all-out effort should be made to provide the child with the best treatment on being diagnosed with ADHD.

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