Percentage rise of ADHD in American children

By: Tinsley Tullos

Studies show that almost nine percent of American children have ADHD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Only 32 percent are receiving needed medication. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders has released as what doctors consider the “gold standard” of diagnostic standards.

Although batteling with ADHD is a difficult task to uphold, persons with this disease can still lead a very successful life when properly diagnosed and treated. Photo courtesy of Google images

A recently conducted survey shows that the nine percent of children tested were between the years 2007 to 2009 among the ages of five to 17. From 1998 to 2000, there was a seven percent diagnosis rate, just a slight rise from the recent years of study. This survey, known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, tested 3,082 children for symptoms of ADHD. Only 47.9 percent of the children who met the criteria for ADHD were actually diagnosed. Data used to create diagnosis and treatment patterns were also used and collected from doctors to help with the findings of this survey.

The lead researcher, Dr. Tanya E. Froehlich, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Medical center, claims that children are often under diagnosed and under treated. This statement goes against the common thought that ADHD is over diagnosed and over treated. Race has proved to no longer be an issue as detection and screening of this disease has improved. Although the distribution of ADHD has been found equal among all races, Hispanics still have the lowest disease rate. This could be from a lack of healthcare access which could lead to lesser diagnosis. Children who have the highest rate of ADHD, usually from poorer families, are the ones left untreated. They have the least consistent treatment of medication, and the causes of their disease are likely due to the exposure of tobacco and lead. The U.S. Census Bureau has also gathered data showing that boys are more affected than girls by about five percent.

ADHD is often found in children in their younger years, and poses as a setback to school and career achievement. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, this disease could be characterized by hyperactivity, inattention and impulsitivity. Consequences of ADHD can be that of higher rates of substance abuse, asthma, learning disabilities, incarceration, injuries and car accidents. Dr. Jon A. Shaw, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine, states that, “ADHD is a highly prevalent disorder, the most common psychiatric diagnosis in children, and that, in general, it is being under diagnosed and under treated in our community.”

Researchers say that the reason for this sudden rise in percentage diagnosis is due to greater awareness of ADHD. Although managing these affected children can be difficult for both the child and parent, persons with this disease can in fact lead to successful lives if properly diagnosed and medicated.


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