Study: ADHD Maybe Overlooked In Young Girls

PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr – CC BY 2.0 – ADHD by Practical Cures

A new NHS study suggests ADHD may be overlooked in young girls, as they tend to behave better than young boys.

The National Institute Of Health And Care Excellence (NICE) has reported findings that ADHD may be going untreated in young girls and women, who may be less likely to exhibit the most well-known traits of the condition. NICE reports that young girls with ADHD are more likely to exhibit behaviors that are harder to notice, such as having a hard time concentrating, poor organizational skills, and forgetfulness; none of which are traditionally linked to ‘hyperactivity’. According to the chairwoman of NICE’s guideline committee, Dr. Gillian Baird, nearly half of ADHD cases in young girls may go unnoticed. “Among the possibilities are that boys present with more obviously disruptive behavior,” Baird says.

Psychologists estimate that around 5% of school-age children suffer from ADHD, which is often characterized by restlessness and impulsiveness, which often lead to disruptive behavior in the classroom.

In recent years, treating ADHD with diet and nutrition has been gaining in popularity. NICE advises against treating ADHD in young children solely with nutrition, however. While elimination diets, like the popular Feingold Diet, have shown to be effective in treating ADHD for certain young children, it’s difficult to determine who will respond positively to elimination diets. NICE recommends only attempting to treat ADHD with special diets when consulting with a trained nutritionist and mental health experts.

Instead, NICE researchers advocate for regular doses of Ritalin, rather than relying on it as a last resort. Although Ritalin prescriptions have nearly doubled in the last decade, according to the NHS, the popular prescription drug is still not recommended as the first line of defense in treating ADHD.

ADHD experts recommend beginning with behavioral treatment or counseling first, with medication being prescribed only after attempts at modifying the environment have failed. NICE also recommends that only trained psychologists or mental health specialists prescribe Ritalin, going against the common wisdom that General Practitioners can prescribe behavioral medication.

The controversy in treatment and diagnosis hints at the crisis facing our children. ADHD – and related treatments – continues to rise. We need to continue to be vigilant so that every child can get the treatment that will work best for them.