EXPERTS from the Elche General Hospital have warned of the levels of overdiagnosis of children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
It’s estimated that between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the population is hyperactive; a disorder that mainly affects children and whose main consequence is the inability to concentrate at school, thus leading to failure and even exclusion from their schools.
Head of Paediatrics at the Elche General Hospital, José Pastor, said that most cases of ADHD are mild and, although they have to be closely monitored to avoid problems in the future, in most cases it’s enough to introduce small changes into behaviour patterns that need to be looked at to stop such consequences being taken into adulthood.
“There is no need to spread alarm and worry, or to take away the importance of the condition but in recent years we’ve tended to over-diagnose these cases. To begin with, I wouldn’t be talking about ADHD in children that are under five-years-old,” said Pastor. “Until they reach school age, it’s very difficult to know if children have these problems or not. Children, after all, are children. Some are naughty and are more active and livelier than others…but that doesn’t signify they’re suffering from ADHD.”
In fact, he goes on to state that the majority of patients that come into paediatric consultations do so for minor cases in which, with a little help from both home and school, the problem can be reduced.
Pastor continued: “The problem is that we tend to look for a medical reason to explain everything, and the belief that a pill fixes everything. Sometimes there isn’t a problem there at all.” He does recognise, of course, that there are real problem cases. “Primarily, the help the child receives should be psychological and be prescribed medication in only the most serious and extreme cases.”