Epidemiology of attention deficit disorder in Brazil: Implications for the Brazilian legal system


In spite of the fact that the legal system adopted in Brazil is codified on the Roman tradition, there is no specific protection in law for people suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In contrast, the law of the United States is largely derived from the common law system and there are two federal laws that guarantee a free appropriate public education and provide services to eligible students with disabilities. They are: Section 504 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act2. The American Legal System reflects the social demand based on epidemiological studies. In the present investigation, we studied the prevalence of attention disorders in Brazil. The sample included 239 students, rated regarding attention problems with a checklist filled by 45 different teachers. As left-handers show greater problems in the impulsive-hyperactivity domain, we investigated the influence of gender on attention problems using handedness as a covariate. Hand preference was assessed by direct observation. A student was classified into the ADD group if he (she) was rated maximum score in at least six questions concerning impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Sixty-eight students (28% of the total sample) were included in the ADD group. The percentage of males was found to be greater in ADD group as compared to the percentage of males in the normal-control group. The gender effect was not explained by handedness. Our data is similar with other studies. For instance, the rate of ADD symptoms among indigenous students from the Brazilian Amazon was found to be 24.5%. In Brazilian juvenile offenders, the percentage was 33%. The differences with other studies are discussed considering sampling procedures. In accordance with the tradition of the Roman system, we urgently need Federal specific laws to deal with this public health problem. We must convert into specific laws, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations) that was recently ratified in Brazil.

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Schmidt, S. , Simoes, E. , Schmidt, G. , Schmidt, M. and Carvalho, A. (2013) Epidemiology of attention deficit disorder in Brazil: Implications for the Brazilian legal system. Open Journal of Epidemiology, 3, 232-236. doi: 10.4236/ojepi.2013.34034.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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