Researchers fear children are over-diagnosed for ADHD

A SPIKE in ADHD diagnoses is prompting fears from researchers that children are being over-diagnosed and over-prescribed with potentially powerful and ultimately unnecessary medication.

A study led by Dr Rae Thomas of Bond University and published in the British Journal of Medicine looked at how 86% of children with the disorder were diagnosed as having "mild or moderate ADHD", a type which is given no definition in psychiatry guidelines in Australia, the US or Great Britain.

Dr Thomas and other authors suggest there could be a risk of harmful medical treatment.

University of Cambridge neuropsychology professor Barbara Sahakian said the increased prescriptions of medication could be attributed to better detection and the understanding that half of children diagnosed will have the disorder into adulthood.

"In addition, I am sure there is also a grey line where some consultants would prescribe medication whereas others would deem the symptoms not sufficiently severe to warrant (ADHD drug) Ritalin," she said.