Children with concentrating problems do not always suffer from ADHD

Berlin - Before treatment begins for a child suspected of having an attention disorder, other possible maladies should be ruled out, according to Professor Andreas Warnke of the Berlin-based German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy (DGKJP).

Warnke noted that some of the typical symptoms of Attention- Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) could have other causes. If a child has difficulty concentrating, he said, it may be due to a developmental disorder such as dyslexia.

The presence of organic problems such as insufficient sleep or impaired thyroid function should be checked as well. "An addiction or psychotic disorder also have to be considered as possible causes of unusual behaviour in juveniles," Warnke said. And since ADHD is highly heritable, it is important to know whether the parents have the disorder.

Affected children often have to be treated with psychotherapy and drugs. Parallel to treatment, the patient's parents and nursery or school should receive adequate counselling, Warnke said.

He noted that attention disorders were frequently accompanied by anxiety, depression or tics that should be taken into consideration during treatment. It is estimated that 2 to 3 per cent of all children and juveniles suffer from ADHD. (dpa)