Prevalence of ADHD in U.S. Reached 9.5% in 2007-2008

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- The U.S. prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among children and adolescents rose to its highest level in 2007-2008, with 9.5% of children and adolescents ever diagnosed, according to a federally sponsored national telephone survey covering more than 70,000 American children and adolescents.

Although the reasons behind the increased prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remain unclear, the increase over the 7.8% rate of ever-diagnosed ADHD in 2003-2004 reached statistical significance and appears real.

"We think something is going on," Melissa L. Daniel-son said while presenting a poster at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Explanations might include increased awareness of the diagnosis, and more children and adolescents undergoing formal evaluation, she said. Backing up the national finding are data on ADHD prevalence in each individual state. Prevalence rates rose in almost every state, and in 13 states recent increases reached statistical significance, she said in an interview.

The National Survey of Childrens Health, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receives its primary funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2007 and 2008, a randomly selected sample of U.S. parents answered a telephone survey about their children's health. Parents answered four questions about ADHD: Did they have a child aged 4-17 years who ever received a diagnosis of disorder? Did their child have a current diagnosis? Is the ADHD mild, moderate, or severe? Does the child receive medication?

Extrapolated survey results showed that in 2007-2008, 4.1 million children and adolescents had a current diagnosis, 7.2% of the 4- to 17-year-old population (less than the 9.5% ever diagnosed with ADHD). Of these, two-thirds - 2.7 million - received medical treatment for their ADHD, and parents said that 570,000 (14%) of their kids had severe ADHD. About half had mild ADHD, with the remaining patients having what their parents described as moderate disorder. …