• Vol. 38 No. 10, 916–917
  • 15 October 2009

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Coping or Curing?

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a modern day paradox. From its descriptions of being an untreatable moral defect,1 often associated with antisocial behaviour, to its current acceptance as a treatable neurodevelopmental disorder that has a lifelong impact, it is one of the most prevalent childhood psychiatric disorders. A recent meta-analysis estimated the worldwide prevalence of ADHD to be 5.29%.2 A survey of 2400 children aged 6 to 12 years in Singapore showed that 4.9% had disruptive behaviour disorders by parent ratings.3 The importance of ADHD in modern society lies in its impact on academic, social and occupational development. A burden of disease study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Singapore placed ADHD as the third highest contributor of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in the 10 to 16 age group.4 This burden is likely to be carried into adulthood and beyond. Yet in a survey of 48 family physicians in Singapore, knowledge about ADHD was found to be unsatisfactory suggesting that the training of doctors in identifying ADHD, much less treat it was poor. Similar findings in teachers were also found.56

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