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From America OnLine:

My 17-1/2 year old daughter is type I diabetic and has been for five years. She was recently diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder, without hyperactivity). She was seen by two different psychologists (I wanted a second opinion) and they both positively diagnosed her, taking into consideration that she has diabetes. I was the one who initially noticed the symptoms (after reading an article on it). It sure sounds like she has ADD to me, but do you think it is easy to make an error when diabetes is involved?

Thank you.


This question was referred to our two pediatric endocrinologists, who have each given an answer:

Answer from Dr. Lebinger:

It is a little unusual to diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder for the first at the age of 17. though if there is no hyperactivity, this diagnosis can be easily missed. When someone with diabetes receives this diagnosis, I usually suggest that they make sure the she is not having asymptomatic low blood sugars which are being confused with ADD. I also suggest that the thyroid function be tested.


Answer from Dr. Robertson:

Many paediatricians in the UK are still rather sceptical about ADD and only a few are prescribing Ritalin I believe that this is a common option in the US. Like many "trendy" diagnoses there is a real danger that it will be made too often and I think this is very much the domain of the child (or adolescent in this case) psychiatrist.

We don't have enough information here about the age of onset of symptoms or indeed what symptoms your daughter has. I guess that it's unlikely that her behavioural disorder is due to damage from recurrent severe hypoglycaemia, given her age and duration of diabetes. We really need to know about birth history and other information.


Original posting 21 May 96


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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