Alarming rise in ADHD diagnosis

Alarming rise in ADHD diagnosis

By Catherine Walker

A 29% increase in the number of children and teenagers being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is being suggested by a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers from CDC have reported finding that an average of 9% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHA between 2007 and 2009.  This represents a 29% increase over the rate of 7% the researchers found for ADHD diagnoses in a similar three year period from 1998-2000 in children and teens.

New data has just been made available from a national survey conducted from 2007 to 2009 that included around 40,000 households.  In a nationally representative sample the researchers collected information on 8,000 to 12,000 children during each of the three years.

Caution was needed so as not to read too much into the new numbers said Dr. Lara Akinbami, the lead author of the new report and a medica officer at the CDC;s National Center for Health Statistics. 

‘I would say that most probably what we found has a lot to do with better access to health care among a broader group of children, and doctors who have become more and more familiar with this condition and now have better tools to screen for it.  So, this is probably about better screening, rather than a real increase, and that means we may contine to see this pattern unfold’ said Dr. Akinbami.
The survey discovered that boys suffered a greater increase rate in ADHD overall.  This rose from about 10% in the 1998-200 period to 12.3% in the most recent study.  The prevalence rate among girls rose from 3.6% to 5.5%.

The gap is closing between different racial groups.  Whites, blacks and some Hispanic groups now share closer prevalence rates than they have in the past.  One group’s prevalence rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have actually decreased – Puerto Rican children.  Mexican children continue to experience the lowest rates of ADHD among all children and teens.  Mexican children have more than half the rates of white children.

Consistently higher rates of ADHD were found to exist in poorer households.  Where the family income was below the poverty line or where it was double the poverty line had higher rates of ADHD.  This relates to 10-11% higher compared to the national average of 9%.

Western states continues to remain lower than the national average for ADHD with no definite explanation. 

The report is published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.




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