July 24, 2008
Study Finds ADHD Rising In Older Children
Government researchers said on Wednesday that although incidences of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among younger children have held steady, the number is growing among older children in the U.S.
ADHD diagnoses among children aged 12 to 17 increased by an average of 4 percent a year from 1997 to 2006, according to the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers found no significant change in the percentage of children aged 6 to 11 diagnosed with ADHD over the same period.
The report used statistics from a national health survey that included data on 23,000 children aged 6 to 17 gathered in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Overall, they found that nearly 5 percent of children aged 6 to 17 had ADHD, a condition that often becomes apparent in preschool and early school years. Children with ADHD have a tougher time controlling their behavior and paying attention.
As of 2006, a total of 4.5 million school-aged children"”those aged 5 to 17"”had been diagnosed with ADHD, researchers estimated.
Similar findings from other studies showed boys were more than twice as likely as girls to have ADHD.
Hispanic children were less likely than non-Hispanic black or white children to have ADHD.
The report also noted that children with ADHD were more likely than others to have contact with a mental health professional, to use prescription drugs and have frequent health-care visits.
Why older children were being diagnosed at a higher rate than younger children remains unclear, but researchers suggested it might be that older children had more chances of being evaluated and diagnosed than younger children.
ADHD is marked by restlessness, impulsiveness, inattention and distractibility that can interfere with a child's ability to pay attention in school and maintain social relationships.
Drugs like Ritalin, or methylphenidate, a stimulant intended to lower impulsiveness and hyperactivity and boost attention, are the most common forms of treatment.
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