The Commission has undertaken an investigation into the use of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication among children aged five years and younger living in out-of-home care. Community Visitors obtained information from carers of these children which revealed a prevalence of 1.6% (27 of 1681 children).
The average age of children taking ADHD medication was 4 years 11 months, with more boys than girls identified in this investigation (73.7% and 26.3% respectively).
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) state in the Australian Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that children aged under six years should not be given medication as a first-line treatment for ADHD. However, where medication was used in this cohort, the treatment and management aligned well with the guidelines stipulated by the RACP. For instance, almost all children were prescribed medication by a paediatrician or child psychiatrist, and medication use had been reviewed within six months for the vast majority. The most commonly prescribed medications were stimulants registered for use in Australia (eg. Ritalin, dexamphetamine).
The health needs of children in out-of-home care will continue to be monitored by the Commission through its Community Visitor Program, survey work with children and young people and systemic review activities.
Last Updated: June 7, 2011