Boston – A new study performed by scientists from the MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, discovered that 1 in 3 kids with mental health conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety are treated only by pediatricians. The research was published in the journal Pediatrics.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that surfaces in some children of preschool or early school age. Experts estimate that three to five percent of children in the United States – approximately 2 million kids – have ADHD, making it one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. Credit:

“We’ve been supporting and nurturing children with mental health problems for years. We know with ADHD or anxiety that it’s likely they’ll be talking with their pediatrician, but I was surprised that half of kids aren’t being seen for these diagnoses by their PCPs,” said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, executive director of Digital Health at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a pediatrician at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek, Washington, CBS News reported.

The study

Researchers evaluated data from nearly 43,000 children, with ages ranging from 2 to 21, and who had been seen for mental health conditions in outpatient settings between 2008 and 2011.

According to their findings, almost 35 percent of children who go and seek for mental health care in an outpatient setting, are treated by primary care physicians only, while 26 percent were referred to a psychiatrist, and 15 percent treated with a psychologist or social worker.

Scientists discovered that 42 percent of children with ADHD went to a primary care physician when compared to 17 percent kids suffering from anxiety and mood disorders. The findings also suggest that pediatricians prescribed medications to a higher percentage of children compared to psychiatrists.

Moreover, 74 percent of children treated with a pediatrician for ADHD are at higher risk of receiving psychotropic medications than 61 percent of children with ADHD that are being treated by a psychiatrists. Also, 25 percent of children saw more than one provider.

“This finding likely reflects the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged primary care pediatricians to take an active role in the treatment of ADHD, and that clinical guidelines for pediatricians recommend that medication should be considered a first-line treatment for all youth with ADHD that are 6 years of age and older,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, the N.Y. HealthDay News reported.

Further studies

Researchers stated that 7 percent of children in the U.S. receive mental health services each year. They claimed that their findings suggest that future studies should be made, focusing on collaborative care between mental health specialist and primary care doctors.

“Further research regarding timeliness and family satisfaction with this care among various groups should be pursued,” researchers stated in Pediatrics study, as CBS News reported.

In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that millions of children living in the U.S. are suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette syndrome and other mental health issues.

Source: HealthDay News