Dr. Magryta: ADD/ADHD
The diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and various other neurobehavioral disorders has been climbing decade upon decade with no sign of slowing down. The causes of this rise remain a definitive mystery but antenatal negative maternal influences like chemical exposure coupled with certain genetic SNP’s are where I am putting my likelihood coins. From the CDC website:
Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011.
Rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of approximately 5% per year from 2003 to 2011.
Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
As this volume increases, we find that other issues are rising in parallel. One serious issue is bullying. It has long been a concern for the parents of children described or labeled as “different”. The preoccupation with protecting our loved ones makes it all the more painful when these events occur in school and away from our purview.
In the November 2015 Journal of Pediatric Psychiatry, Dr. Epstein-Ngo looked at the association between children being prescribed ADHD medication, being diagnosed with ADHD and subsequent bullying. The study was based on a yearly questionnaire about victimization events and its relations to ADHD. 4965 students between the ages of 7 and 12 years of age participated. This is not the best study design, however, the results still need to be looked at.
Children with the diagnosis of ADHD had a greater risk of being bullied. Those prescribed medicine had an even greater risk compared to ADHD children not prescribed medicine. If they were prescribed medicine and gave it away, the risk climbed higher still.
Reading between the lines of these results is that children prescribed medicine likely have more severe disease and likely had co-morbid conditions like anxiety, depression or social communication issues that make them more likely be perceived as different and thus to be bullied. If they do not take their medicine, then the symptoms are more apparent to would be bullies.
The results inform us that parents of children with ADHD need to be vigilant for bullying and proactive in educating their children about bullying. We truly want them to live with the beauty of who they are.
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org