Eight percent of US kids have ADHD, survey finds
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Just under 8 percent of U.S.
children aged 4 to 17 had ever been diagnosed with
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in 2003, and more than
half of them are being treated with drugs, the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
Boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with
ADHD than girls, especially boys from poorer families, the CDC
The 2003 survey is the first comprehensive analysis of
precisely how many U.S. children have the disorder and how many
are on medication for it, the CDC said in its weekly report in
death and disease.
“In 2003, approximately 7.8 percent (4.4 million) of U.S.
children aged 4 to 17 years had ever had ADHD diagnosed,” the
Estimates had ranged from anywhere between 2 percent and 18
percent, the CDC said.
It said 2.5 million, or 56 percent, had ever taken
medication for the disorder.
“ADHD diagnosis was reported approximately 2.5 times more
frequently among males than females. Prevalence of reported
ADHD increased with age and was significantly lower among
children aged 4 to 8 years compared with children aged more
than 9 years.”
For the report, the CDC experts analyzed data from the 2003
National Survey of Children’s Health.
It said more 6-year-old boys were on medication for ADHD —
4.3 percent — than any girl of any age.
“The highest rates of medication treatment for ADHD by sex
and age were reported among males aged 12 years (9.3 percent)
and among females aged 11 years (3.7 percent),” the CDC said.
To be diagnosed with ADHD a child must have six or more
symptoms for six months including frequent failure to pay
attention in schoolwork or play, frequent mistakes due to
inattention to schoolwork, frequent failure to listen when
spoken to directly, failure to follow up on chores and
“ADHD poses substantial costs both to families and
society,” the CDC said.
“Health care costs associated with ADHD are conservatively
estimated at $3.3 billion annually,” it added.
“Moreover, persistent and negative side effects of
stimulants have been documented, including sleep disturbances,
reduced appetite, and suppressed growth, which might have
important health implications for the millions of children who
are currently taking medication for ADHD.”
Therefore, it said, experts should keep an eye on how many
children have ADHD and are being medicated for it.