Minority Kids Less Likely to Get ADHD Diagnosis?
Finding points to possible disparities in care
For example, the study noted that children without health insurance were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children who had coverage. Kids from lower-income families were also less likely to be diagnosed.
Yet, children with older mothers, who tend to be more highly educated, and those with parents who spoke to doctors in English were more likely to be diagnosed with the condition. Both those factors are signs that access to health care and awareness of the problem may also be playing a role.
Several risk factors for ADHD occur more often in minority children than in whites. Those include a lower household income, less educated parents and low birth weight.
"What that suggests in our study is that there are children who are likely deserving of a diagnosis, but who aren't receiving a diagnosis, which raises the question of a lack of treatment," said study author Paul Morgan, director of the educational risk initiative at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa.
The consequences of ADHD can be serious if the condition is left untreated.
"We know that people with ADHD have higher rates of failing a grade in school, lower academic achievement, lower achievement in their jobs, higher rates of incarceration, higher rates of substance abuse, more problems with relationships, and higher rates of depression and anxiety," Froehlich said. "It is extensive."
There's some evidence that treatment, either with behavioral therapies or medication, can improve the outlook for affected children.
"Definitely, we want all kids to be treated and to have the best chance possible for success in life," Froehlich said. "So if people truly have ADHD and they're not identified, that's going to hold them back."