New Numbers on ADHD in U.S. Kids

CDC: More than 4.4 Million U.S. Youngsters Diagnosed With ADHD

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 1, 2005 -- A new CDC report shows how common attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become in the U.S.

Data came from the parents of more than 102,000 kids. The findings:

  • About 4.4 million kids had ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • More than half of those kids (56%, or 2.5 million kids) were taking medication for ADHD when the survey was done.
  • ADHD was diagnosed more often in boys than in girls.
  • ADHD was diagnosed less often in minority children and those without health insurance.

The national survey was done by telephone. Parents were asked if a doctor or health care professional had ever told them that their child had ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD.

ADHD was previously known as attention deficit disorder, says the CDC.ADHD Medications: Tips for Reducing Side Effects ADHD Medications: Tips for Reducing Side Effects

Boy-Girl Differences

A history of ADHD diagnosis was more common in kids who were at least 9 years old compared with those who were 4 to 8 years old, the survey shows.

ADHD diagnosis history was most common among 16-year-old boys. About 15% of them had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the boys' parents.

For girls, a history of ADHD diagnosis was most common among 11-year-olds. Six percent of them had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the parents' reports.

For boys, ADHD diagnosis was more common in families living below the poverty level. Rates of reported diagnosis for girls didn't vary by income.

Rates were similar for boys and girls with reported ADHD diagnoses who were taking medications for the condition.

Rates Varied Among States

The survey also showed substantial differences between states.

The number of kids with reported ADHD diagnosis ranged from 5% in Colorado to 11% in Alabama.

Among kids who had reportedly been diagnosed with ADHD, California had the lowest percentage of kids taking medication for ADHD (more than 40%) and Nebraska had the highest percentage (almost 58%).

The Fine Print

The survey has a few limits. For instance, the parents' reports couldn't be confirmed.

ADHD treatments that don't involve medication weren't included. It also didn't include people living in institutions, who might have higher ADHD and medication rates.

The survey was only done in English or Spanish. That excludes families who don't speak those languages.

Data didn't cover undiagnosed ADHD cases or kids without an ADHD diagnosis who take medications for similar symptoms.

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SOURCES: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Sept. 2, 2005; vol 54: pp 842-847. News release, CDC.
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