A new study finds that most children with symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) aren’t getting treatment for the condition.
The study looked at 11 ,723 children between the ages of 9 and 10. The researchers asked parents to identify whether or not their children had ADHD.
The researchers found few children, identified by their parents as having ADHD, were getting either medication or mental health treatment.
Most children not getting medical treatment for ADHD
Among the children with ADHD, only 26.2% had ever received outpatient mental health care.
Additionally, just 12.9% were presently taking ADHD medications, and only 34.8% had received either treatment, according to the studyTrusted Source, published in JAMA Network Open.
The research authors found that income wasn’t correlated with getting medical treatment.
The results showed children with parents who had higher salaries and a higher educational degree were less likely to receive outpatient mental health care compared to those whose parents had lower salaries and a lower educational degree.
The team also found that ADHD medications were more prevalent among boys than girls.
The importance of raising awareness regarding child ADHD treatment
“There is a great need to increase awareness and understanding regarding ADHD in children,” Dr. Harold Hong, a board-certified psychiatrist at New Waters Recovery, located in North Carolina, told Healthline. “This recent study has highlighted some major gaps, especially when it comes to girls with ADHD receiving treatment.”
One of the reasons children aren’t getting the treatment they need is due to a lack of knowledge regarding symptoms.
“Unfortunately, I believe many parents are unaware of what symptoms to look out for or even how to recognize that their child may have a condition like ADHD,” said Hong. “As a result, they don’t seek out the proper help or diagnose their child at all. Furthermore, we must consider cultural and socioeconomic factors as well – some communities may not be as equipped to identify and treat children with conditions such as this, leading them to go untreated.”
Experts say it’s crucial that parents, educators and medical professionals do their part to raise awareness and close this gap in treatment.
“It’s my belief that more research needs to be done on this topic, but also that more education and awareness is crucial in order to ensure that all children, regardless of gender, receive the proper care and treatment for ADHD,” Hong explained. “We must work together as a community – parents, educators, medical professionals – to make sure our children have the resources they need.”
Michelle Giordano, psychologist and community counselor for Live Another Day believes there are several reasons why kids may not be getting the treatment they need.
“As a psychologist, I am worried about the pervasive inequalities in the care of kids with ADHD, especially girls, that this study has brought to light,” said Giordano. “The findings imply that many kids with ADHD are not receiving the necessary treatment, which may have an adverse effect on their ability to learn and interact with others in social and academic settings.”
Some kids with ADHD might not be getting the care they require for a variety of reasons. One possibility is that parents and other caregivers are ignorant of ADHD symptoms or accessible treatments, Giordano stated.
In addition, there might be social or cultural obstacles that hinder families from getting the proper care.
What parents should know
Experts say in order to help children with ADHD much more needs to be done to improve awareness and access to treatments.
Hong says we need to focus on raising awareness and providing more education around ADHD and its symptoms, especially in underserved communities,
Secondly, we must strive to improve access to treatment for all children who show signs or have been diagnosed with ADHD. This can include offering better mental health services and increasing access to resources such as therapy, medication, behavior modification plans, lifestyle changes, and more, Hong stated.
Healthcare professionals must also ensure that these services are offered at a price point that is accessible to all families regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Hong also highlighted that it is important for the medical community to provide detailed information about the different treatments available so parents can make informed decisions about their child’s care.
“This study emphasizes the need for greater understanding and accessibility to treatment for kids with ADHD, especially girls,” Giordano explained. “By enhancing accessibility and education, we can guarantee that all kids with ADHD get the help they require to realize their complete potential.”