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September 12th 2004

ADHD is a genuine ailment, new scientific study finds

We have recently been made aware of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science 2004, which was held in Exeter last week.

Among all of the sessions there was a specific session about ADHD.
Professor Eric Taylor from the Institute of Psychiatry spoke at this session.


Details of the session are below as there were also other speakers:

However Professor Eric Taylor spoke about " ADHD: does the evidence answer the controversies? Increased medical diagnosis of ADHD raises public concerns: is there really a biological basis? Is society just less tolerant, or has it lost control of its children? Can it be right to treat behaviour problems with drugs? The talk describes scientific progress in answering or reframing questions."

There were also a couple of good article in the Times Online but unfortunatly even though it appears Professor Taylor spoke about new Research he has been involved in here in the UK, among which has been Research using Brain Scans, this does not appear to have been taken up by the media at large.

We have therefore put details of these articles below and have written to Professor Taylor to see if he can also give an extra comment about this to us here at adders.org - when he does reply we will add this to this report.

We have just received a brief quote from Professor Eric Taylor in response to these articles.

"My main reaction was to be glad that some newspapers were reporting the real science about ADHD rather than just unsupported opinion".

Many thanks to Professor Taylor for this, we fully understand what he is saying with this.

The articles in the Times Online are as follows:

ADHD is a genuine ailment, new scientific study finds

BY MARK HENDERSON, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT September 08, 2004

Children with the controversial "bad behaviour" syndrome ADHD are suffering from a genuine medical condition linked to abnormal development of the brain, scientists said today.

Brain scans of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which some critics allege has been invented or exaggerated by drug companies seeking lucrative markets, show a common pattern of physical changes.

The condition, which involves restlessness, impulsive behaviour and a short attention span, is thought to affect up to one in 20 British children, with about a quarter of these suffering from a more severe form known as hyperkinetic disorder. This involves a poor attention span, impulsive behaviour and restlessness even while asleep, impairing normal life both at school and at home. The condition is 2.5 times more common among boys than girls.

Increasing rates of diagnosis have alarmed some researchers and parents' groups, who accuse doctors and pharmaceutical companies of deliberately "medicalising" ordinary disruptive behaviour.

They fear that many children and teenagers are being treated with powerful drugs such as Ritalin that they do not really need, to control essentially normal childhood antics and acting up.

The latest research, however, suggests that these concerns are misplaced, and that if anything too few children with ADHD are getting the help they need, according to Professor Eric Taylor of the Institute of Psychiatry in London. His review of 17 brain scan studies involving a total of about 350 children has identified common features that appear again and again in those with the disorder.

The regions involved are those affecting self-control and inhibiting impulsive behaviour - the right frontal lobes, the basal ganglia and the vermis of the cerebellum, which are all appreciably smaller in ADHD patients.

The scientists followed up several hundred boys diagnosed with ADHD at the age of seven, and found they were four times more likely than normal to have mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and personality disorders when they reached adulthood. The risks of later mental illness were higher if the child was not treated with drugs.

The researchers found that ADHD's origins were 80 per cent genetic, and it was not the result of poor parenting. Growing up in a "chaotic environment", to which parents with poor skills can contribute, may however trigger the condition among children who are already genetically susceptible.

"This work shows that there is a distinction between ordinary bad behaviour and ADHD," Professor Taylor said. "Parents and families are right in saying that it starts with a physical influence, and it should be thought of as a long-term subtle disability. A proportion of the population are suffering from a real but somewhat invisible disability." Up to 6 per cent of American children are now given drugs such as Ritalin to control ADHD, but there is no evidence for similar over-prescribing in Britain.

"It can be a severe problem that needs medication, but only about a third of those who could benefit are getting that in Britain," said Professor Taylor.

"I certainly don't think it's purely an effect of drug firms, though they might have contributed to the problem in America."

Brain scans show it's not always easy to be good

BY MARK HENDERSON AND NIGEL HAWKES, The latest research findings being presented at the British Association Festival of Science - September 09, 2004

CHILDREN with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the controversial "bad behaviour" syndrome, are suffering from a medical condition linked to abnormal development of the brain, scientists said yesterday.

Brain scans of children with the disorder - which some critics allege has been invented or exaggerated by drug companies seeking lucrative markets - have revealed a common pattern of changes, providing evidence that ADHD is a genuine biological phenomenon.

According to studies, its origins are largely genetic and it is not the result of poor parenting. Growing up in a "chaotic environment", to which parents with poor skills can contribute, may trigger the condition among children who are already genetically susceptible. The condition, which involves restlessness, impulsive behaviour and a short attention span, is thought to affect up to one in twenty British children, with about a quarter of these suffering from a more severe form, hyperkinetic disorder. The condition is more common among boys than girls.

Increasing rates of diagnosis have alarmed some researchers and parents' groups, with doctors and pharmaceutical companies being accused of "medicalising" ordinary disruptive behaviour. They fear that many children, including teenagers, are being treated with powerful drugs such as Ritalin that they do not need.

But, according to Professor Eric Taylor, of the Institute of Psychiatry, in London, the latest research suggests that too few children with the disorder are receiving the help that they need.

Professor Taylor's review of 17 brain scan studies involving about 350 children has identified common features. Several regions that are involved in self-control and inhibiting impulsive behaviour - the right frontal lobes, the basal ganglia and the vermis of the cerebellum - are appreciably smaller in ADHD patients.

Children who have ADHD are four times more likely to have mental health problems when they reach adulthood, and the condition gets worse if it is not treated.

"This work shows that there is a distinction between ordinary bad behaviour and ADHD," Professor Taylor told the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Exeter.

"Parents and families are right in saying that it starts with a physical influence, and it should be thought of as a long-term subtle disability. A proportion of the population are suffering from a real but somewhat invisible disability." An estimated 250,000 British children may suffer from ADHD. It is often undiagnosed. Hyperkinetic disorder affects 1.4 per cent of children. Professor Taylor said that drug treatment was recommended to treat hyperkinetic disorder.

His team has recently followed up hundreds of boys who had ADHD diagnosed at the age of seven to determine their long-term progress, and found a fourfold increase in rates of mental illness in adulthood. The risks were higher for those who were not treated with drugs.

He said: "The main thing that says it's not a fiction of the drug firms is that if you don't treat it it gets worse."

The following is from BA Festival of Science 2004 programme the rest of the session on ADHD.

ADHD: DISORDER OF THE MIND OR DISORDER OF SOCIETY? - Organised by: The BA Psychology Section

Date : 08/09/2004 - Time : 09.30 - 12.00 - Location : Newman Building LT B - Cost : **5.00

- Chair - Maggie Snowling, University of York, Centre of Reading and Language
- ADHD: Does the evidence answer the controversies? - Eric Taylor, Institute of Psychiatry
- Diet and ADHD - Jim Stevenson, University of Southampton
- Coffee break -,
- Understanding gender differences in ADHD - Barbara Maughan, Institute of Psychiatry
- Parenting and ADHD - David Daley, University of Wales, Bangor

ADHD: disorder of the mind or disorder of society?

ADHD (attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) is a developmental disorder characterised by a difficulty with concentration, impulsivity and poor control of behaviour and attention. Up until relatively recently the diagnosis of ADHD was seldom made in the UK. This event considers the biological, social and environmental factors that contribute to ADHD and how they might be remedied.

Chair Professor Maggie Snowling University of York, Centre of Reading and Language Institute of Psychiatry

09.30

ADHD: does the evidence answer the controversies?

Increased medical diagnosis of ADHD raises public concerns: is there really a biological basis? Is society just less tolerant, or has it lost control of its children? Can it be right to treat behaviour problems with drugs? The talk describes scientific progress in answering or reframing questions.

Professor Eric Taylor Institute of Psychiatry

10.00

Diet and ADHD

It has often been suggested that food might contribute to hyperactive behaviour. A recently completed study of nearly 300 three year old children found such an effect for common food colourings and preservatives. These findings are presented and their possible implications for public health outlined.

Professor Jim Stevenson University of Southampton

10.30

Coffee break

11.00

Understanding gender differences in ADHD

ADHD - like conduct disorder and reading disabilities - is much more common in boys than in girls. This seems not to be a question of referral bias - but does it reflect biology, differing social expectations, or that diagnostic criteria are better attuned to identify problems in boys than girls? This talk discusses these questions, and ways we might go about trying to answer them.

Dr Barbara Maughan Institute of Psychiatry

11.30

Parenting and ADHD

Research evidence suggests that parents of children with ADHD demonstrate deficits in their parenting. Evidence that ADHD symptoms improve in some children once their parents participate in parent training reinforce these findings. However a series of recent studies investigating parent-child similarity suggest that parents with high levels of ADHD symptoms themselves and who have children with high levels of ADHD engage in more positive parenting.

Professor David Daley University of Wales, Bangor

A Mothers Story

Disorder often seen as bad behaviour
BY TOSIN SULAIMAN

9th September 2004 Times online

AS THE mother of a child with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, Sue Zaidman says she has had to cope with people judging her and her son, Louis, 9, unfairly.

When people see her hyperactive son, they assume that he is just a badly behaved boy.

"I think of it as an invisible disability," Mrs Zaidman, 43, said. "If you have a child who is autistic or who is deaf or blind, people see these things and people make allowances accordingly.

"If you see my son, you just see a child who is behaving badly. Because of that he gets labelled by other kids and people stay away from him."

Despite the difficulties of bringing up Louis, Mrs Zaidman said that he had taught her and her husband not to take life too seriously. "The biggest thing that we have as a family is a sense of humour," she said.

"He's a ray of sunshine. He is a gorgeous boy, he really is. He finds it very frustrating as well. He often says, 'What have I done? Why me?'"



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