Nightly News   |  October 17, 2011

ADHD can be diagnosed in kids as young as 4

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new treatment guidelines Monday for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, saying ADHD can be diagnosed in children as early as age four. NBC’s Nancy Snyderman has more.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: There are new guidelines out tonight from the nation's pediatricians and the recommendation for treating ADHD , attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , is raising a lot of eyebrows. Our chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman , here with us in the studio. What's this all about?

Dr. NANCY SNYDERMAN reporting: It's about really expanding the ages at which kids can be diagnosed and treated, Brian . Right now it's between the ages of six and 12. Pediatricians are urging that we expand that to kids between the ages of four and 18. The question, why? Well, not to scramble to get more kids diagnosed but to allow pediatricians, teachers and parents to all be on the same page.

2007: 2.7 million ages 4-17 taking medication

Source: CDC

SNYDERMAN: The idea is that if we diagnose kids earlier -- and we believe that those signs many times show up earlier -- that everyone can, frankly, intervene. A lot of people will raise the question, well, does that mean treating more children with hyperactivity medications? Right now it's a $3 billion industry. It's expected to even rise significantly by the year 2015 , maybe significantly higher.

Source: GlobalData

SNYDERMAN: But the pediatricians say, 'Not so fast. We're not talking about necessarily medicating kids but making sure that we are interceding early. Some kids need medications and it works well; other kids, just behavioral therapy.' But I think this is going to destigmatize, Brian , ADD in a way that we've tried to do with autism. Intercede early, broaden the horizons, treat appropriately, and understand that this, which affects 8 percent of our kids, really is something that we all have to be on the same page about.

WILLIAMS: And we'll follow this as it plays out.