The first national study to look at behavioral therapy, medication, and dietary supplements to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among children ages 4-17, shows that less than one half of children with ADHD were receiving behavioral therapy in 2009-2010. And most that are diagnosed can receive life insurance if treatment stabilizes the condition as an adult.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, “Treatment of ADHD among Children with Special Health Care Needs,” published today in The Journal of Pediatrics provides a snapshot of how ADHD was treated just before the release of the 2011 clinical guidelines for treatment of ADHD from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
According to the study, among children 4-17 years of age, about 4 in 10 children with ADHD were treated with medication alone, 1 in 10 received behavioral therapy alone, 3 in 10 were treated with both medication and behavioral therapy, and 1 in 10 received neither medication nor behavioral therapy. Overall, about 1 in 10 children took dietary supplements for ADHD.
“We do not know what the long-term effects of psychotropic medication are on the developing brains and bodies of kids,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “What we do know is that behavioral therapy is safe and can have long-term positive impacts on how a child with ADHD functions at home, in school, and with friends. “Because behavioral therapy is the safest ADHD treatment for children under the age of 6, it should be used first, before ADHD medication.”
In 2011, AAP released ADHD treatment guidelines recommending behavioral therapy alone for treatment of preschoolers and combination therapy of medication and behavioral therapy for children with ADHD between the ages of 6-17.
“Treatment decisions for ADHD in children can be complex. Parents, health professionals, psychologists, and educators can work together to ensure that children receive the best treatment available,” said Susanna Visser, DrPH, M.S., epidemiologist with CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “The good news is that we now have strong clinical guidelines to support the more than 5 million children living with ADHD.”
The study shows significant state-to-state variability in the type of ADHD treatment in children 4-17 years of age. On average, states with higher behavioral therapy rates had lower medication treatment rates and vice versa. Rates of medication treatment among children with ADHD ranged from a low of 57 percent in California to a high of 88 percent in Michigan. Rates of behavioral therapy among children with ADHD ranged from a low of 33 percent in Tennessee to 61 percent in Hawaii. This analysis was from parent reported data from the 2009-2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
Elizabeth Geary, a spokeswoman for a life insurance company, says they generally do not consider ADHD a major medical underwriting issue unless it is linked to some other condition.
What life insurance underwriters look for in those with adult ADHD is severity; does the person have other psychiatric impairments, employment (and employment history), Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR) and any alcohol/drug abuse?
If someone is mild, has no other impairments, stable employment, normal MVR and no history of alcohol/drug abuse, they can qualify for Preferred with some carriers. If they have some minor items of the other types they could easily be dropped to Standard or even sub-standard with multiple problems.
If they are Moderate, they are likely going to get a Standard rate class if they are otherwise not a risk. If they have other psychiatric impairments, unstable employment, MVR problems or any history of alcohol/drug abuse, it will push them into a sub-standard rating and could result in a decline.