Why Don't French Kids Have ADHD? Actually, They Do

Supposedly, kids in France don't have ADHD.

At least that is what a blogger on Psychology Today writes.

It sounds reasonable, at least on the surface. After all, didn't that book just come out about how much better the French are at parenting than we are?

Also, since ADHD is almost certainly partly genetic, couldn't they just be missing the 'ADHD genes" that seem so common in the United States?

What's most interesting about the article, though, is that it seems hard to disprove.

After all, how many of us know all that much about ADHD in outside the United States?

Fortunately, it isn't too hard to find out.

One report by Samuele Cortese, MD, "Delay of Attention-deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Diagnosis in France - Reasons and Resolutions," which appeared in European Psychiatric Review, states that there are "similar rates of ADHD in North America and Europe."

The report also states that:

  • in France, the mean delay between a child's first appointment for impairing ADHD symptoms and a diagnosis of ADHD was 2.8 years
  • "psychodynamic and sociological approaches to behavioural disorders" can "promote critical attitudes towards diagnostic criteria, biological underpinnings of behaviour and medications"
  • there is a reluctance for parents to seek help and for doctors to diagnosis ADHD because of the public perception of ADHD in France
  • the initial prescription for a stimulant must be made in a hospital setting

    Another article, "Predictors of diagnostic delay in a clinical sample of French children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder," which appeared in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, also found that "diagnosis of ADHD in France is among the longest reported" and is likely accounted for by "local attitude towards ADHD and the paucity of specialized centres for the diagnosis and the treatment of ADHD," including that ADHD symptoms are often seen as a consequence of being depressed or having anxiety.

    And in the article, "Prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Associated Features Among Children in France," the authors found that "the epidemiology of ADHD in French children is similar to the epidemiology of ADHD in other countries." The article appeared in the Journal of Attention Disorders just last year.

    Most importantly, the problem with the Psychology Today article and with the underdiagnosis of children with ADHD in France is that there are negative consequences to having untreated ADHD. If your child has ADHD symptoms that are causing him or her an impairment, get him evaluated for ADHD and talk to your pediatrician about your treatment options.

    Related:
    What French Parents Do That Americans Don't
    ADHD Symptoms
    History of ADHD
    Understanding ADHD

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