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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Kids With ADHD Often Have Other Problems

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Often Complicated by Learning Disabilities, Behavioral Problems, Depression, and Anxiety

ADHD: A Complicated Picture continued...

Children from low-income families were about 40% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to children from households with annual incomes of more than four times the federal poverty level -- about $88,000 annually for a family of four.

Being poor also made it more likely that children would have more associated medical conditions.

About 30% of children from low-income homes had three or more complicating conditions in addition to their ADHD, compared to just 8% of children from more affluent homes.

Impact of ADHD Felt at Home, School

“The impact of ADHD on American families is significant,” says Susanna Visser, the lead epidemiologist for the Child Development Studies Team in the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC in Atlanta.

“The depth of that is really felt in terms of impact to family functioning to school and social functioning,” Visser says.

For example, more than 80% of children who had three or more other conditions along with their ADHD had problems in school, and nearly half of them had repeated a grade.

Visser and her colleagues published a study in 2010 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that found that the number of U.S. children aged 7-14 whose parents reported that they were diagnosed with ADHD had increased from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007.

Better Understanding Needed

Researchers say this study points to a need for better screening of children with ADHD in order to determine and help them with the broader spectrum of conditions they may be facing.

“ADHD is one of the first to be diagnosed because it is based on behavioral symptoms that tend to be observed by parents, teachers, and physicians,” Visser says, and it may be the tip of the iceberg.

“These problems are probably not causally tied in any way to each other, but the underlying cause of them may be similar,” Visser says.

For example, “Children who are low-birth weight or preterm are more likely to have ADHD and other behavioral problems,” she says. “Children exposed prenatally to tobacco are also more likely to have all of these conditions.”

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