CDC Reports Over 10,000 Children Under 4 Taking Amphetamines for ADHD / ADD, According to Dr. Tim Houchin, M.D.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced that over 10,000 children ages 2 and 3 are taking amphetamine medications for ADD or ADHD. Should a rational parent, pediatrician, child psychiatrist or psychologist be alarmed by this statistic?

Dr. Tim

Dr. Tim

[T]here is absolutely no FDA-cleared, objective test for ADHD in a 2 or 3 year-old child.

Past News Releases


In his May 16, 2014 article from the New York Times Alan Schwarz cited a recent government announcement that over 10,000 children ages 2 and 3 are being prescribed amphetamines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD / ADD. These numbers, presented by the Centers for Disease Control, highlight how readily pediatricians, psychiatrists and psychologists are doling out the diagnosis, according to Dr. Tim Houchin, M.D.

Medical schools used to teach that ADHD / ADD occurred in 3 – 5% of children. However, current CDC data from this map on their website clearly demonstrates that in some states the rate of ADHD is as high as 19%.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5 specifies criteria for mental and emotional disorders. It clearly states that ADHD symptoms must be present in at least two settings such as home, school or work. But how many 2 year-olds even go to school? Should daycare be considered one of these settings?

Based upon the DSM-5 criteria it would seem that most 2 and 3 year-old children would not even be eligible for the diagnosis, yet the CDC clearly states children as young as 2 are being prescribed amphetamines for ADHD in large numbers. So why are pediatricians and mental health professionals so willing to diagnose ADHD in children this young? Furthermore, what explains the 300 – 400% increase in the diagnosis of ADHD in the past 2 decades?

Although there are no easy answers to these questions, the CDC website contains the article ADHD Throughout the Years, last updated May 16, 2013. An excerpt from the CDC article is provided below:

"It is not possible to tell whether this increase [in the rate of ADHD] represents a change in the number of children who have ADHD, or a change in the number of children who were diagnosed. Perhaps relatedly, the number of FDA-approved ADHD medications increased noticeably since the 1990s, after the introduction of long-acting formulations."

Based on this information cited from the CDC report it is clear to Dr. Tim that the CDC has at least some suspicion that drug companies, seeking to market long-acting and profitable ADHD medications, are at least partly to blame for the dramatic rise in ADHD diagnoses. But in 2 year-olds?

To Dr. Tim's knowledge there is absolutely no FDA-cleared, objective test for diagnosing ADHD in a 2 or 3 year-old child. None. Labeling 2 year-old children with ADHD, let alone placing them on amphetamines, is a very slippery slope in Dr. Tim's opinion.

About Dr. Tim:

Dr. Tim Houchin is one of approximately 200 physicians in the United States to be triple board certified in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry & forensic psychiatry. In addition to serving as an expert witness to various courts Dr. Tim is founder and president of 360 Mental Health Services, a comprehensive mental health diagnostic and treatment center based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Timothy M. Houchin, M.D.
since: 03/2013
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Dr. Tim Houchin
since: 02/2013
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360 Mental Health Services

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