ADHD Scripts on the Rise but that’s Not a Bad Thing

ADHD Scripts on the Rise but that’s Not a Bad Thing

The rate of medications dispensed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 17 and under increased by 30% between 2013-14 and 2016-17.

The Australian Atlas for Healthcare Variation, released today, shows around 14,000 prescriptions were dispensed per 100,000 children aged 17 and under in 2016-17, compared with around 11,000 in 2013-14.

The atlas for 2016-17 also showed some areas had a high dispensing rate of around 34,000 per 100,000 while the area with the lowest rate was around 2,000 per 100,000 – a 17-fold difference. This difference is much lower than in 2013-14, when the highest rate was 75 times the lowest.

For decades people have been concerned too many children could be diagnosed with ADHD and treated with medications. We are conducting a study called the Children’s Attention Project, following 500 children recruited through Melbourne schools. So far, we have found only one in four children who met full ADHD criteria were taking medication at age ten.

So it looks like, if anything, more children with ADHD should be referred for assessment and consideration of management options.

How many kids are medicated?

ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood – the prevalence is around 5% in Australia. Children with ADHD have great difficulty staying focused, are easily distracted and have poor self-control. Many are also physically hyperactive, especially when they are young.

To be diagnosed, children need to have major problems from their ADHD ...

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