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ADHD in Children Health Center

Kids With ADHD Have Higher Healthcare Costs

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WebMD Health News

Jan. 2, 2001 -- Children and teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are much more likely than other kids to need hospital care, and more of it, for a range of nonbehavioral problems including serious injuries and asthma.

The study -- which analyzed health records of more than 4,000 young people -- found that "children with ADHD have a significantly higher likelihood of having a number of clinical diagnoses," says Cynthia L. Leibson, PhD, an assistant professor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Her study is published in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Not only are they more likely to get diagnosed, but they are more likely to require hospital inpatient, hospital outpatient, and emergency room [ER] admissions -- with all the associated costs," Leibson tells WebMD. "In fact, they had more ER visits in almost every year we studied."

"This is a ... a powerful new finding," says Ann Abramowitz, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "People don't fully appreciate the burden of ADHD," she tells WebMD. "It's not just noisy kids in the classroom. This is a real phenomenon."

Leibson's study contributes to a growing body of literature showing that those with ADHD have more psychosocial problems (like depression or difficulty getting along with others), automobile collisions, and incidences of poisonings, fractures, and substance abuse.

In addition, Leibson and colleagues pinpointed a chronic condition -- asthma -- that seems to plague ADHD kids more than others.

In their research, Leibson and colleagues examined the records of 4,119 young people born and still living in the Rochester area. Of that group, 7.5% had ADHD, according to medical and school records.

Those children were compared with those without ADHD. Among the findings: Fifty-nine percent of ADHD kids had major injuries vs. 49% of non-ADHD kids; 22% of ADHD kids had asthma, compared with 13% of non-ADHD kids. Also, 26% of the ADHD kids had required at least one hospitalization, and 81% had required emergency care vs. 18% and 74% of the non-ADHD kids, respectively.

On average, medical costs for those with ADHD were more than double the costs for those without.

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