The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there has been a 42% increase in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children aged 4 to 17 from 2003 to 2011. Data were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The study included 2011 data from a randomized, cross-sectional national survey of more than 95,000 U.S. households known as the National Survey of Children’s Health. Information was gathered on the prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnoses, current ADHD diagnosis, and current medication prescriptions to treat the condition. Information was compared with data from previous surveys conducted in 2003 and 2007.
The results showed by 2011, 11% of children—or 6.4 million children nationwide—had received a diagnosis of ADHD. Among those with a diagnosis for ADHD, approximately 70% were currently taking medication for the disorder—increasing by 28% from 2007 to 2011. Nearly 1 in 5 high school boys was diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 1 in 11 high school girls. ADHD-diagnosis frequency was most prevalent in Kentucky, at 15 percent, and least prevalent in Nevada, at 4.2 percent.
“The number of U.S. households impacted by childhood diagnoses of ADHD is growing. Early treatment can be a tremendous help to children whose behavior, performance, and relationships are being negatively impacted by ADHD,” said Susanna Visser, M.S., a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study. The authors speculate that “better detection of underlying ADHD, due to increased health education and awareness efforts,” may be the reason for the increase of ADHD diagnoses among American children.