Recommended treatment for young kids with ADHD is underused

Related Story

COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control said more than 50 percent of children with ADHD between 2-5 years old never try behavior therapy, which is proven to be the most effective method to treat ADHD in young children.

The CDC released a report Tuesday urging health care providers to refer parents of young children with ADHD for training in behavior therapy before prescribing medicine to treat the disorder.

According to the report, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents of children with ADHD undergo training in behavior therapy. 

For that, parents usually go through eight or more sessions with a therapist to learn positive communication, positive reinforcement and other skills to help improve their childs' behavior.

The graphic below from the CDC shows what children 2-5 with ADHD use for treatment. 58 percent of children with ADHD never receive psychological services. Nearly 49-percent of those use ADHD medicine as their only form of treatment. 

“Parents of young children with ADHD may need support, and behavior therapy is an important first step. It has been shown to be as effective as medicine, but without the risk of side effects," said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.

The report said parents can play a key role in the treatment of children with ADHD. The CDC said health care providers should inform parents about all treatment options to decide what method is best for the child.

"We are still learning about the potential unintended effects of long-term use of ADHD medicine on young children. Until we know more, the recommendation is to first refer parents of children under six years of age with ADHD for training in behavior therapy before prescribing medicine,” Schuchat said.

The Director of the Division of Human Development and Disability in CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Georgina Peacock, said many families benefit from behavior therapies, but medicine can also be appropriate in some cases.

“When health care providers and families know the benefits and risks of all available treatments, they are best prepared to make the most appropriate treatment choice for young children with ADHD,” Peacock said.