Increased Rate of ADHD Diagnosis
US Review of Health Records Shows Increased Rate of ADHD Diagnosis
By Ivan Poturica BA, Director of The ADD Centre Wpg
A recent study by the CDC in the US confirmed the suspicion that more children are being diagnosed with ADHD. In children aged 5 to 17 the percentage of those ever diagnosed with ADHD increased from 7% to 9% from 1998-2000 through 2007-2009. It would not be surprising if the same trend is not occurring in Canada.
Many contributing factors may be involved. Researchers have noted that the Western Diet has steadily increased the amounts of heavily processed foods, rich in saturated fats, salt, and sugars accompanied by decreases in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and folate. Is this “Western” style diet associated with contributing to the higher prevalence of the disorder? The study did not prove a causal connection but did indicate the Western diet may have promoted expression of ADHD behavioural symptoms.
Another study actually took this one step further by feeding children without attention difficulties a highly processed diet and then monitored their behaviour with questionnaires. What they discovered was that parents reported increased ADHD behaviours with some children reaching diagnostic levels. What children eat can improve or degrade the brain’s performance.
There are many factors in children’s and families’ lives that have positive and negative effects on cognitive and behavioural performance. Tel Aviv University demonstrated that sports participation improved cognitive, emotional, and behavioural well-being. So keeping children active at least 60 minutes per day or more has great benefits for all children. It can be critical to children with ADHD especially in school. Boys are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD but nature seems to compensate as boys benefit the most from sports. John J. Ratey in his book “Spark” delves into the science of exercise, its impacts on brain development and function and provides a general prescription for how much exercise is needed to benefit the brain.
University of Berlin studied excessive computer game playing and found about 1 in 10 “gamers” fulfilled diagnostic criteria of addiction concerning their gaming behaviour. Other studies looked at the amount of “screen” time and proposed a link between excessive TV watching and computer game playing as contributing to an increase in inattention and distractibility. Displacing screen time with activities like sports, music and reading are beneficial.
Other factors may lead to either missing symptoms or emphasis on one kind of ADHD in schools. University of Montreal researchers found that inattention rather than hyperactivity was the most important indicator of school completion. The quiet inattentive child without any behaviour problems is only 29% as likely to complete school as 89% peers without attention issues. The hyperactive child with more behavioural issues had a 40% completion versus 77% for peers. This study highlights the issue that ADHD is a matter of opinion about the standard of behaviour and therefore is not a good measure or indicator of difficulty or outcomes. Without a clear definitive test the number of children with ADHD is partly the result of society’s changing and varied standards of behaviour.
What about medication? Many doctors feel strongly about medicating children. Dr W Gifford-Jones in his syndicated article says, “H…. would freeze over a thousand times before I’d submit to such idiocy”. He asks why the US and Canada use 90% of world’s stimulant drugs prescribed for ADHD while the rest of the world can manage children without medication. At what level of behaviour do we draw the line before drugging children to restrain them?
Multi-modal strategies including nutrition, exercise, home and school structure, educational supports, accommodations and behaviour skills training all can contribute to success. Brain research shows us the brain is plastic and capable of learning new skills with the right kind of feedback. Neurofeedback brain training an approach is an important tool as part of a multi-modal strategy that is capable of removing the symptoms of ADHD in 91% of children completing at least 40 training sessions. Of children on medication 96% can be taken off upon completion. Increases in academic results, intellectual potential, normalization of behaviour, improved results in sports and music are seen. Upon completion of brain training the person no longer presents the symptoms of ADHD.
For children with ADHD, ASD and learning difficulties Federal and Provincial tax benefits may be available. For further information contact the ADD Centre at 897-4493. Visit our Web Site “www. addcentre.mb.ca” or read: “The A.D.D. Book” by Dr. William Sears and D. Lynda Thompson.
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