Attention Deficit: Is It In The Genes?

New research suggests it is. Now a reliable test and more treatment options are in sight

Many parents have long suspected that their lively kids are being diagnosed, too quickly, as victims of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A new study suggests they're right. At Michigan State University, researchers reviewed 15 months' worth of Medicaid billing records and found that 233 children between the ages of one and three were diagnosed with ADHD--an alarming age to be judged for a disorder that can be hard to diagnose even in school-age kids. Even more troubling, nearly 60% of those toddlers were treated with psychotropic medications such as Ritalin and Prozac, though little is known about the impact of such drugs on children so young. "I don't think we can give a simple diagnosis of ADHD in a child of this age," warns Dr. Marsha D. Rappley, associate professor of pediatrics at Michigan State.

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