Interesting Study Linking ADHD and Maturity

I caught this yesterday on’s Science page and thought it was worthy to share with you all (my bolding, not in the original on-line article):

“How mature a child is compared to his peers may partly determine how likely he is to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study. This finding validates concerns that the condition is misdiagnosed, researchers say.

North Carolina State University researchers found that children born just after the kindergarten eligibility cutoff date were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born just before the cutoff date. Children born just after the cutoff date are among the oldest in their class, and those born just before the cutoff date are among the youngest in their class.

For example, in schools where the cutoff date is Sept. 1, children born on Aug. 31 make the cutoff and are the youngest in their class; children born on Sept. 2 will wait an additional year to enter school and be among the oldest in their class.

Children born just a few days apart should have the same underlying risk of having ADHD, according to the researchers, so this significant difference in diagnosis rates is strong evidence that medically inappropriate diagnoses are being given.

“We believe that younger children may be mistakenly diagnosed as having ADHD, when in fact they are simply less mature,” study researcher Melinda Morrill said in a statement.

The characteristic behaviors associated with ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, according to the National Institutes of Health. Rising rates of ADHD and large differences in diagnosis rates have led to fears that the condition is not accurately diagnosed.

Accurate diagnosing is crucial, the researchers say, because stimulant medications are often prescribed as a treatment for ADHD. The stimulants have side effects, including insomnia, stomachache, headache, dizziness and decreased appetite, and they have been shown to increase heart rates and blood pressure. Little is known about their long-term effects.

Youngest are 50 percent more likely to get ADHD diagnosis

The new findings are consistent with those of another forthcoming study that suggests children born just before the kindergarten cutoff date are 50-percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those born just after, Morrill and her colleagues write in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Health Economics.

The findings indicate that there are children who are diagnosed, or who are not diagnosed, because of something other than underlying biological or medical reasons, according to Morrill.

“We are not downplaying the existence or significance of ADHD in children,” Morrill said. “What our research shows is that similar students have significantly different diagnosis rates depending on when their birthday falls in relation to the school year.”

In the study, the researchers examined data from two national health surveys and a national private health insurance claims database to evaluate rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment in children. The data sources covered different time periods ranging from 1996 to 2006.

The findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Health Economics. “

Interesting find, don’t you all think?

Many blessings,



4 thoughts on “Interesting Study Linking ADHD and Maturity

  1. VERY interesting study. My husband and I have been talking lately about how exactly ADHD is diagnosed (and MISdiagnosed). Our son, who is turning 3 next week, is being “monitored” by our pediatrician for an ADHD diagnosis in the next few years. (I’ll save my story of why she’s concerned, though I do think it may be accurate). For the reasons stated in the article, we’re very much opposed to medication, if at all avoidable. So I’m reading everything I can about ADHD.

    This also caught my interest because my son’s bday is August 31…and our school cutoff is Sept. 1. Up until recently, I’ve been feeling strongly that he should start even though he will be the youngest in the class. Although he is extremely smart, he’s super tiny for his age, and the real kicker…social and emotional readiness. I’ve been having some serious second thoughts about that lately (though I’ve got a few years to make the final decision).

    My guy will be the youngest in his preschool class this year, and I’m anxiously awaiting the start of school to see how he settles in to the new environment.

    Thanks for sharing this great article!

    • Cara, I would encourage you strongly to think about starting school later rather than earlier…I am hoping I have time to write more on this later, but I think there is a lot of compelling evidence. I have known many mothers who actually kept their children home until first grade and sent them at first grade and the children really did wonderful…I don’t know if this is an option for you, but it is something to consider…

      You will make the right decision for your family and your children because you are the expert on them!
      Did you see the blog post on here about ADHD and choices? If you use the search engine it should come up.
      Many, many blessings to you!

  2. Wow, interesting and frightening article…makes me feel sad for all those young ones – my daughter is born a few days before the cut off date (so will be one of the younger ones), hence my desire to go strictly waldorf.

    Thanks for sharing!

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