Can Biomarker Improve the Accuracy of ADHD Diagnosis

A more precise diagnosis for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is now possible, claim the researchers at NEBA Health. A study, published in Brain and Behaviour, shows that NEBA, a brainwave test using electroencephalographic (EEG) biomarker, can help reduce over-diagnosis of ADHD in children.

biomarker on an electroencephalogram to prevent ADHD overdiagnosis
A Biomarker on an Electroencephalogram can help prevent ADHD over-diagnosis

The aim of the test is to aid doctors in differentiating ADHD-affected children from others suffering from a disorder exhibiting similar symptoms. The process involves comparing two sets of data collected from same the subjects with a reference standard developed by an independent multidisciplinary team consisting of psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuro-developmental pediatricians. An earlier study showed that the multidisciplinary team was well-suited to tell whether a symptom akin to ADHD could be an indicator of a different disorder.

The researchers conducted the tests at 13 different medical centers. They collected data from 275 children and adolescents who exhibited less attention span and other behavioral concerns. While the doctors at the medical centers conducted the usual test to identify ADHD, special teams collected data from these individuals through the biomarker or the brainwave test. These diagnoses were then contrasted with the reference standard established by the multidisciplinary team.

The result:

Out of 275 individuals, 209 were diagnosed with ADHD by the doctors. However, the multidisciplinary team found out that 93 of those 209 do not meet the criteria for ADHD. There has been a possible over-diagnosis of 34 percent. The brainwave test also agreed to a large extent with the multidisciplinary team’s conclusion. About 91% of the 93 individuals, detected by the multidisciplinary team, had a lower theta/beta ratio. Patients with lower theta-beta ratio are more likely to have another disorder with similar symptoms as ADHD.

“Integrating the NEBA biomarker with a clinician’s regular evaluation can bring the diagnosis more in line with that of a multidisciplinary team,” said Dr. Snyder, head of research at NEBA Health. The study suggests that the current test for ADHD could be improved from 61% to 88% with the help of the NEBA test.

NEBA Gets a Tick of Approval from FDA

The NEBA test takes roughly 15 to 20 minutes to administer and is the first biomarker to be approved by Food and Drug Administration. It helps improving detection of ADHD, one of the most common disorders to affect children that may continue up to adulthood. Also, this test is a significant milestone in terms of emphasizing some of the common myths and misconceptions around ADHD. The disorder affects about 9% of children in America aging between 13 to 18 years and also affects about 4.1% of adults in the USA. Extreme inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and behavioral concerns may be indicators of ADHD or ADD in children.

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