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Too Many Young Children With ADHD Receiving Medicine as First Treatment: Report

Too Many Young Children With ADHD Receiving Medicine as First Treatment: Report

Too many children ages 2 to 5 who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are receiving medication as the first treatment, before behavioral therapy is tried, a new government report states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 75 percent of young children with ADHD receive medicine as treatment, the Associated Press reports.

Only about half of young children with ADHD in Medicaid and 40 percent with employer-sponsored insurance receive psychological services, including the recommended first-line treatment, behavior therapy.

Behavior therapy improves ADHD symptoms without the side effects of medicine, the CDC notes. “ It is an important first step for young children with ADHD and most effective when delivered by parents,” the report notes. “With the support of healthcare providers and therapists, parents can learn specific ways to improve their child’s behavior and keep their relationships strong.”

Behavior therapy involves a therapist teaching parents over a series of sessions to guide their child’s behavior through praise, communication, routine and consistent discipline.

According to the CDC, there are instances where medicine may be appropriate. “Healthcare providers and families can work together to make sure children with ADHD are receiving the most appropriate treatment,” the report states.

Side effects from ADHD medication can include stomach aches and sleep problems, the article notes. Studies have shown ADHD medication can help older children with the disorder, but there has been less research about the effectiveness and safety of the medication for preschoolers, the AP states.

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