Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is no longer diagnosed just in schoolchildren. ADHD has already become the most common mental health diagnosis for children ages 3 to 5. Researchers have now begun to explore the use of drugs and other treatments for preschoolers, reports the September 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
At the preschool age, it can be hard to tell whether certain behaviors represent a real problem or just "kids being kids." Clinicians compare a child with others the same age to determine whether the symptoms are inconsistent with the developmental level. Preschoolers with ADHD are not just rambunctious. They seem unable to wait their turn or think before acting. Despite warnings, they may play with matches or rush into traffic. They are noisy and constantly interrupt others, and they can sow chaos at home or in day care.
Stimulant drugs are increasingly prescribed for younger children, although the FDA has not approved them for children under age 6. The first large, controlled trial of methylphenidate