ADHD Diagnoses Soar
The number of children and teens in the U.S. diagnosed with ADHD rose 66% from 2000 to 2010. According to a study published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, during that period the number of physician-diagnosed cases went from 6.2 million to 10.4 million, making ADHD one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions among people under 18 years old.
More Cases or Greater Awareness?
Does the dramatic increase in ADHD diagnoses mean that the condition is more prevalent than it used to be? Probably not, says Dr. Craig Garfield, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University and the lead author of the study. “The magnitude and speed of this shift in one decade is likely due to an increased awareness of ADHD, which may have caused more physicians to recognize symptoms and diagnose the disorder.” The authors suggest that public awareness campaigns coupled with media coverage and advertisements for ADHD medications played a role in making both parents and physicians more aware of the problem.
The study also found that the number of children being treated for ADHD by child psychiatrists was growing at the expense of treatment by pediatricians. At the onset of the study about 25% of children were seen by psychiatrists; by the end of the study the number rose to 33%.
Finally, results of the study showed that stimulant medications remain the most common treatment for ADHD, although their use has declined from 96% of patients in 2000 to 87% by the end of the study period.
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