Last 20 Years Saw Increase in Prevalence of ADHD in Children

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Significant increases in prevalence in subgroups by age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, geographic region.
Significant increases in prevalence in subgroups by age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, geographic region.

HealthDay News — From 1997-1998 to 2015-2016, there was an increase in the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in JAMA Network Open.

Guifeng Xu, MD, from the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital in Iowa City, and colleagues used data from the National Health Interview Surveys to estimate the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD and 20-year trends among US children and adolescents. Surveys were conducted annually from 1997 to 2016; the analysis included 186,457 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 years.

The researchers found that 7.9% of the children and adolescents were reported to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. In 2015 to 2016, the weighted prevalence of diagnosed ADHD was 10.2%. Significant sex and racial/ethnic disparities were seen in the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD, with a prevalence of 14.0 and 6.3% in boys and girls, respectively, and 6.1, 12.0, and 12.8% in Hispanic individuals, non-Hispanic whites, and non-Hispanic blacks, respectively. The estimated prevalence of diagnosed ADHD increased over the 20-year period, from 6.1% in 1997 to 1998 to 10.2% in 2015 to 2016. Significant increases in prevalence were seen among all subgroups by age, sex, race/ethnicity, family income, and geographic regions.

"This study suggests that additional research is needed to better understand the cause of this apparent rise in prevalence," the authors write.

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