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Dramatic increase in ADHD diagnoses among children and adolescents in Germany
The Barmer GEK medical report reveals a drastic increase in ADHD diagnoses. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of cases diagnosed by a doctor is said to have increased by 42 percent. Diagnosis is particularly common in children whose parents have a low income. The risk is increased even more when parents are unemployed. In addition: “The higher the level of training, the lower the risk,” summarizes the 2013 doctor report.
According to an evaluation by the Barmer GEK as part of the 2013 medical report, ADHD diagnoses have almost doubled. Between 2006 and 2011, the diagnoses increased by 42 percent. In the age group of patients under the age of 19, the total proportion rose from 2.92 to 4.14 percent. This means that over four percent of the children insured with the Barmer GEK health insurance suffer from ADHD. In the year before last, psychiatrists or pediatricians diagnosed 472,000 boys and 149,000 girls under the age of 19 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or AHDS for short. "Around 20 percent of all boys who were born in 2000 were diagnosed with AHDS between 2006 and 2011," says the report from the Barmer GEK. The frequency of diagnosis in girls of the same age group was only 7.8 percent of the patient cases.
Prescribing more drugs like Ritalin The prescription frequency of methylphenidates like Ritalin has increased at the same speed. In 2011 alone, the drug was prescribed 336,000 times. The prescription rate was highest among children in the eleventh year of life. According to this, around at least 10 percent of boys and 3.5 percent of girls are given an ADHD medication at least once in their life.
The Barmer GEK expert Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker warns against an almost inflationary diagnosis frequency. "We have to be careful that ADHD diagnostics don't get out of hand and that we manufacture an ADHD generation." It could not be that more and more children receive pills for educational problems. "That's the wrong way. Ritalin must not be the first choice ”. Rather, a prescriptive diagnosis should take place in the prescriptions, says Schlenker.
It is striking that a prescription frequency can be observed when transitioning to secondary schools. The study authors conclude from this that "increased pressure to perform and high expectations of parents could be partly responsible". However, there is no scientific confirmation of the acceptance.
Parents' situation plays an important role
The social background and the income situation can also play a significant role. According to the authors, the risk of AHDS increases when the parents are unemployed. If the level of education of the parents increases, the risk of ADHD increases. In addition, the medical report was also able to determine regional differences. A particularly high prescription rate of Ritalin and Co was found in the Bavarian city of Würzburg. However, the nationwide average is just under 12 percent.
Often misdiagnosed ADHD
A study by the Ruhr University also found that many treating doctors diagnose ADHD prematurely. The study was the first empirical survey in Germany to examine the diagnosis of doctors and therapists. "The prototype is male and shows symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, restlessness and bursts of impulses." The diagnosis of ADHD is almost inevitable, according to the scientists. Despite existing guidelines, the majority of psychotherapists and doctors misdiagnosed ADHD during the investigation. (sb)
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Image: Alfred Heiler / pixelio.de