ADHD Evals for Preschoolers: New Guidelines Stir Overdiagnosis Fears

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"The new guidelines are based on the wealth of scientific information generated in ADHD over the last two decades," he says. "The guidelines extend the age of diagnosis of ADHD primarily so we can make a difference where it is most needed -- before school formally starts and before college and the work force."

In line with several studies published since the 2000 guidelines were published, the new recommendations that support prescribint medication to kids 6 and olderr suggest that medication be the first and potentially only intervention among patients 12 and over, even though behavioral intervention is a preferable but not required complement to stimulant drugs.

It boils down to how the guidelines are used, says Dr. William Pelham, director of the Center for Children and Families at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"I personally disagree with, and the long-term data do not support, using medication as the first line treatment. If every child who gets diagnosed automatically gets medication, I would be upset with diagnostic standards that identify more children," he says. "On the other hand, if identification meant better training for parents, kids and teachers in behavioral interventions, I would be pleased at increased diagnostic prevalence."

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