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New study suggests birth month could affect ADHD diagnosis

Mar 6, 2012 11:32am
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(NECN/CBC: Kelly Crowe) - Even though they're all in the same grade, not every child in a classroom is the same age.

Some kids can be as much as a full year younger, if they're born late in the year, and that can make a big difference in how they learn and behave.

That lack of maturity could have serious consequences -- they could end up on medication for ADHD, according to a new study Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study looked at thousands of children in British Columbia between 6 and 12 years old and found "an elevated risk of diagnosis and treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children born in December compared with January."

Children born in December were almost 40 percent more likely to receive diagnosis than children born in January and December babies were almost 50 percent more likely to receive prescription medication for ADHD.

It’s a finding that raises concern "about medicalization of the normal range of childhood behaviors, particularly for boys."

The differences in maturity between kids in the same grade is called the relative age effect. It has been measured in sports skills and in other areas of learning, such as reading and math.
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