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CDC Study Says 1 In 10 Children Have ADHD

November 11, 2010

A government survey shows that 1 in 10 children in the U.S. have ADHD, which is an increase from a few years earlier.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, makes it hard for kids to pay attention and control impulsive behavior. 

The study found that about two-thirds of children with the condition are on medication.  The researchers believe that growing awareness and better screening might be the reason for the increase.

The new study found an increase in ADHD of about 22 percent from 2003 to the most recent survey in 2007 and 2008.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed parents of children ages 4 through 17 in both studies.

Of those surveyed, 9.5 percent said a doctor or health care provider told them their child had ADHD.  The earlier study found that fewer than 8 percent of kids had been diagnosed with it.

Researchers believe that about 5.4 million kids have been diagnosed with ADHD, which suggests that about 1 million more children have the disorder than a few years earlier.

Study lead author Susanna Visser of the CDC believes that greater awareness and better screening efforts is part of the reason for having the increase.

“Regardless of what’s undergirding this, we know more parents are telling us their children have ADHD,” said Visser.

Howard Abikoff, a psychologist who is director of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders at New York University’s Child Study Center, told The Associated Press that it was hard to believe so many kids might have ADHD. 

He said other studies have suggested that 5 percent of kids have ADHD, and there are no known biological reasons for it to be on a recent increase.

Abikoff said the CDC study is based on parents saying that a health care provider told them their child had ADHD, but it is not known who the health-care provider was or how thorough the assessment was.

ADHD diagnosis is a matter of opinion, but there is no blood test or brain-imaging exam for the condition. 

He said that sometimes reading disabilities or other problems in the classroom can cause a teacher or others to mistakenly think a child has the condition.

The new study said the increase in diagnoses was seen in kids of all races and family income levels.  The study covered 73,000 children.

The research was published in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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