Birth Months Linked to Higher Rate of ADHD

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, babies born in certain months have a higher rate of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study found that children born in August are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born in other months.

Reasons for the Link

The study focused on children living in states where children must turn 5 before September 1st before being allowed to begin kindergarten. There are 21 states in the nation with this cutoff date. This means that children born in August in these states are usually the youngest children in their classroom. Some researchers believe this may be part of the problem. The study may actually demonstrate that there are developmental components to an ADHD diagnosis and that the immaturity of a child’s brain can cause them to demonstrate symptoms that may be linked to ADHD.

A study in Taiwan found that youngest children are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than older children in the same class. The study also found that the prevalence of ADHD diagnoses decreased month by month from the youngest children to the oldest children in the class. Could this mean that a significant number of children are being misdiagnosed?

Ensuring a Correct Diagnosis

Many ADHD diagnoses result from a failure of the child to meet the behavior and performance expectations at school. By a certain age, most children have developed the skills necessary to pay attention, stay on task, and wait their turn in school. But classroom ages can span an entire year which means that some of the children in a given classroom have not yet reached these developmental milestones. The differences between the oldest and the youngest child in a class can be substantial. If children are being evaluated for ADHD, it is crucial that their behavior be compared to that of other children their age and not of other children in their classroom.

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