CDC Recommends Behavioral Therapy as First Line Treatment for ADHD

HealthDay News — Behavior modification therapy is preferable to medication for treating children 2 to 5 years old who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), US health officials say.

For the report, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers looked at annual health care claims starting in 2008 for at least 5 million young children (2 to 5 years old) insured by Medicaid and another 1 million young children with employer-sponsored insurance.

Overall, a little more than 75% of young children received ADHD medicine. Only 54% of children with Medicaid and 45% of those with employer insurance received any type of psychological services, which might have included parent training. The number of children with ADHD receiving psychological services has not changed over time, the agency said. The authors of the report emphasize that the CDC “is calling on doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals who treat young children with ADHD to support parents by explaining the benefits of behavior therapy and referring parents for training in behavior therapy.”

“Behavior therapy has been shown to help improve symptoms in young children with ADHD and can be as effective as medicine, but without the side effects,” Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, said during a media briefing. “Research has shown that the benefits of behavior therapy can last for years.”


US Department of Health and Human Services. More Young Children with ADHD Could Benefit from Behavior Therapy. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 3, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2016.