About 310,000 of the country's primary school students suffer from attention deficit and/or hyperactivity, the Public Health Ministry says.
The number accounts for about 6.5% of the roughly 5 million children nationwide who are studying at primary school level.
Deputy Public Health Minister Cholanan Srikaew said the situation is of serious concern, particularly because most parents are unaware of the condition known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and so the disorder may be going undiagnosed.
Dr Cholanan said ADHD was more common amongst boys, and can lead to poor concentration and impulsive behaviour.
"Parents are not paying enough attention because they don't consider it a health problem," he said.
A study has indicated that there is a higher risk of hyperactivity in children whose mothers drank alcohol and smoked during pregnancy, Dr Cholanan said.
If left untreated, the condition will interfere with a child's academic performance and social interaction, he said.
A lack of public awareness on how to deal with the disorder can also expose sufferers to violence as their caregivers become frustrated, he said.
Based on a study by the Child and Adolescence Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute, two-thirds of hyperactive children continue to demonstrate symptoms as they enter adulthood. One in every 10 of those was also found to have substance abuse problems.
Dr Cholanan said he had assigned the Mental Health Department to step up an ADHD awareness campaign to encourage parents of children with short attention spans to seek professional help.
The deputy health minister said ADHD can be be kept under control through effective treatment.
Department of Mental Health director-general Wachira Pengchan said the condition usually appears before the age of seven. Three significant symptoms are a short concentration span, a lack of self restraint, and limitless energy.
He said parents with hyperactive children are encouraged to seek help to learn about techniques to handle their child's behaviour.
Dr Wachira said corporal punishment must be avoided because it can encourage aggressiveness.
Parents who suspect that their child might suffer from ADHD can call the Department of Mental Health on 1667 or 1323 for assistance.
Dr Cholanan also said about 30% of children at primary school level were intellectually underdeveloped.
Studies have found the group to have an average intelligence quotient (IQ) of 98.59, which is below the accepted standard of 100 points. Dr Cholanan said 49% have low IQs and 6.5% have extremely low IQs below 70 points.
About the author
- Writer: Post Reporters