ADHD in the US: New Facts and Figures

Megan Brooks

May 20, 2015

Insurance and socioeconomic status as well as race/ethnicity seem to influence whether a child is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Patricia N. Pastor, PhD, and colleagues with the NCHS Office of Analysis and Epidemiology analyzed parent-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey.

In 2011–2013, 9.5% of children aged 4 to 17 years had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, they report. The prevalence of ever-diagnosed ADHD was more than twice as high in boys as girls (13.3% vs 5.6%).

Among preschoolers aged 4 to 5 years, the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD was 2.7%, and for those aged 6 to 11 and 12 to 17 years, the prevalence was 9.5% and 11.8%, respectively.

Among children 6 to 17 years old, the prevalence of ADHD was highest among non-Hispanic white children (11.5%) and lowest among Hispanic children (6.3%). The prevalence was 8.9% in non-Hispanic black children.

Among all age groups, prevalence was highest among children with public insurance (11.7%) and lowest among those without insurance (5.7%). Among children with private insurance, the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD was 8.6%.

Among children aged 4 to 11 years, the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD was higher for children with family income less than 200% of the federal poverty threshold than for children with family income at 200% or more of the poverty threshold (10.4% vs 8.8%).

ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder diagnosed in children in the United States. While it's typically diagnosed when children enter elementary school, it is "increasingly" being diagnosed in preschool children, the authors note in their report.

This report adds to existing research by examining the relationship between selected demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and diagnosed ADHD in children, they say.

"In view of the economic and social costs associated with ADHD and the potential benefits of treatment, the continued surveillance of diagnosed ADHD is warranted," Dr Pastor and colleagues conclude.

As reported by Medscape Medical News, a 2012 study suggested that the overall incremental costs of ADHD in the United States range from $143 to $266 billion annually.

NCHS Data Brief No. 201. Published online May 14, 2015. Full text

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