Kids With ADHD Have Higher Healthcare Costs
The differences were similar for males and females, Leibson says.
Why all these accidents and chronic conditions? Some of the problems -- like depression or reactions to stress -- may be the consequences of dealing with ADHD, Leibson tells WebMD.
"We may also be seeing the frustrated parent who knows something is wrong and keeps bringing the child to see a doctor," she says. "The kids therefore have more diagnoses simply because they have been brought in so frequently."
As far as healthcare costs related to ADHD, Leibson says her research team noticed a pattern. "They were admitted more to the ER, that's true, but were the increased hospital costs due to number of visits -- or to the number of specialists who saw them? Because they have all these problems, they often are seen by many doctors -- and with each referral, there are additional costs."
Also, did treatment for ADHD make any difference in numbers of hospital visits? Did visits decline after treatment began? In her study, some children with ADHD diagnoses were not treated for the disorder. Some children with ADHD may not have been diagnosed, she says.
"Our study raises many more questions than it answers," Leibson tells WebMD. "But with further analysis, we can tease some of those answers out."
Abramowitz questions whether families living within driving distance of the Mayo Clinic are representative of the general population across the U.S.
"They conducted this study in a very health-conscious community, she says. "People in that community, with their rather unique access to information about healthcare, may be more likely to go to a doctor when something is wrong. ... Maybe some of these parents aren't so typical."
"It's true that those in our study were 95% Caucasian ... and that we do have a large population in the healthcare profession," Leibson says. "So the sensitivity to these healthcare issues might be heightened. But the prevalence of ADHD we found was comparable to other geographical areas, which shows we are not under- or overdiagnosing ADHD."
Researchers received funding for this study from Eli Lilly Co. and from the Public Health Service of the National Institutes of Health.