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ADHD Estimates Rise

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Study Finds Continued Increases in ADHD Diagnoses and Treatment with Medication among U.S. Children

Two million more children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and one million more U.S. children were taking medication for ADHD over an 8 year period (2003-2004 to 2011-2012), according to a new study led by CDC. According to CDC scientists, children are commonly being diagnosed at a young age. Parents report that half of children diagnosed with ADHD were diagnosed by 6 years of age, but children with more severe ADHD tended to be diagnosed earlier, about half of them by the age of 4. “This finding suggests that there are a large number of young children who could benefit from the early initiation of behavioral therapy, which is recommended as the first-line treatment for preschool children with ADHD,” said Susanna Visser, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead author of the study.

The study also found that:

  • 6.4 million children in the U.S. (11 percent of 4-17 year olds) were reported by their parents to have received an ADHD diagnosis from a healthcare provider, a 42 percent increase from 2003-04 to 2011-12.
  • Over 3.5 million children in the U.S. (6 percent of 4-17 year olds) were reported by their parents to be taking medication for ADHD, a 28 percent increase from 2007-08 to 2011-12. Seven in 10 children (69 percent) of the children with current ADHD, 69 percent were taking medication for ADHD treatment.
  • States vary widely in terms of the percentage of their child population diagnosed and treated with medication for ADHD. The percentage of children with a history of an ADHD diagnosis ranges from 15 percent in Arkansas and Kentucky to 4 percent in Nevada.
  • Medication treatment for ADHD is most common among children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD.
  • Nearly one in five high school boys and one in 11 high school girls in the United States were reported by their parents as having been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare provider.

ADHD is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. It often coexists (comorbid) with oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, as well as affective (depression), anxiety, autism spectrum, and learning disorders and persists into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention and/or controlling impulsive behaviors. Effective treatments for ADHD include medication, mental health treatment, or a combination of the two. When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends.

The article “Trends in the Parent-Report of Healthcare Provider Diagnosed and Medicated Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: United States, 2003-2011” by Susanna N. Visser, Melissa L. Danielson, Rebecca H. Bitsko, Joseph R. Holbrook, Michael D. Kogan, Reem M. Ghandour, Ruth Perou, and Stephen J. Blumberg, (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2013.09.001) appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, online November 22, 2013, published by Elsevier.

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

If you enjoy reading my articles, you can click on "subscribe" at the top of the page to receive notice when new ones are published. You can also follow me at http://bestpracticeautism.com.

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