Opinion: Youngest in class twice as likely to take ADHD medication

January 25, 2017

Dr Martin Whitely

Dr Martin Whitely

A study involving over 310,000 West Australian primary school children has revealed children born close to the school cut-off age are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Dr Martin Whitely from Murdoch University was lead author of the paper published with the Medical Journal of Australia, which shows why a child's birth date predicts whether they'll be medicated for ADHD. He also co-authored an article for The Conversation that highlights the research findings.

The article says: “New research has found the youngest children in West Australian primary school classes are twice as likely as their oldest classmates to receive medication for ADHD.

“Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the research analysed data for 311,384 WA schoolchildren, of whom 5,937 received at least one government subsidised ADHD prescription in 2013. The proportion of boys receiving medication (2.9%) was much higher than that of girls (0.8%).

“Among children aged 6–10 years, those born in June (the last month of the recommended school-year intake) were about twice as likely (boys 1.93 times, girls 2.11 times) to have received ADHD medication as those born in the first intake month (the previous July).

“For children aged 11–15 years, the effect was smaller, but still significant. Similar patterns were found when comparing children born in the first three months (July, August September) and the last three months (April, May, June) of the WA school year intake.”

The Conversation article, titled Youngest in class twice as likely to take ADHD medication”, was co-authored by Suzanne Robinson, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Manager at Curtin University, and can be viewed here.

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Media contact: Luke McManus
Tel: (08) 9360 2491  |  Mobile: 0400 297 221  |  Email: L.McManus@murdoch.edu.au
Categories: General, Research
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