The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently released updated ADD guidelines that recommend medication treatment for preschool children as young as age 4 – despite the fact that use at such a young age remains FDA unapproved.
There’s an argument for and against these new guidelines. First, let’s look at the “for.” Treating children with medication at a young age can help get a jump on a disorder that may very well progress into adolescence and on into adulthood. And this guideline modification builds greater awareness about ADD, helps more kids and increases their chances of succeeding in school.
Now a look at the “against.” In busy practice settings, ADD is often diagnosed in a cavalier-like fashion and prematurely treated with medication – especially under the relentless pressure applied by drug companies and direct advertising to parents and teachers. Thus despite good intentions, this AAP guideline will most surely lead to a glut of medication being prescribed to children who have been inadequately assessed. Translation: no good deed goes unpunished.
Here’s my take. These guidelines piggyback on the folly associated with the senseless expansion of criteria we can expect to see with the DSM-5 – supposedly crafted by “experts.” A preponderance of these experts has worked only in academia, hopelessly removed from how these new guidelines will be misappropriated at the real world level.