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Increase in ADHD Diagnoses


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Increase in ADHD Diagnoses


In the United States, more than two million children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In addition, by 2012, more than one million children were under ADHD medication for a period over 8 years (Schwarz & Cohen, 2013, p. 2). Diagnosis of ADHD encompasses the use of several scientific methods, such as medical assessment, rating of ADHD symptoms depending on the parents, teachers and child reports. The cause of this condition is unknown, but heredity factors play a crucial role (Getahun, Jacobsen, Fassett, Chen, Demissie & Rhoads, 2013, p. 1). The prevalence of ADHD has increased over the past decades as documented from national surveys.

The surveys indicate current trends in higher prevalence, especially for child population aged between 5 and 17 years (Gipson, Lance, Albury, Gentner & Leppert, 2014, p. 3). CDC scientist records that more diagnosis of ADHD are performed on children at a young age. In this respect, fifty percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD by their 6th birthday. However, earlier diagnosis in children by the 4th year is caused by of severe ADHD. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common chronic disease among children. It usually persists after teens reach adulthood. Children suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder experience difficulties in regulating unwary behaviors (Schwarz & Cohen, 2013, p. 3). Efficient treatment of the ailment includes mental health treatment, medication, and a combination of the two. After proper treatment, children have a higher chance of recovery and they do well at school and at home (Polanczyk, Willcutt, Salum, Kieling, & Rohde, 2014, p. 5).

Most notably, the diagnoses of ADHD have increased in the United States over the past few years. By 2012, 5 percent of all children in the country had ADHD. The percentage of diagnosis of ADHD among children increased from 2003 to 2011. For instance, the percentage of children diagnosed with the condition in 2003 was 7.8 percent. The percentage increased by 1.7 percent to 9.5 percent in 2007 (Gipson, Lance, Albury, Gentner & Leppert, 2014, p. 4). Moreover, there was an increase of diagnosed ADHD in 2011 to 11 percent. In this regard, as of 2011, 6.4 million children in the United States aged between 4 to 17 years had been diagnosed with ADHD. An average of 3 percent per year increase was recorded in ADHD diagnosis from 1997 to 2006 (Schwarz & Cohen, 2013, p. 5). Additionally, from 2003 to 2011 there was an increase of 5 percent per year.

Among boys and girls, the children percentage ever diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity rose from 1998 to 2009. For the period between 2007 and 2009, for children aged 5 to 17 years, an annual average of 9.0 percent had been diagnosed. In this respect, the average had increased from 6.8 percent between 1998-2000 (Gipson, Lance, Albury, Gentner & Leppert, 2014, p. 3). Girls were less likely (5.6 percent) than boys to be diagnosed with ADHD as compared to boys at the rate of 13.2 percent between 1998 and 2009 (Polanczyk, Willcutt, Salum, Kieling, & Rohde, 2014, p. 6). Additionally, for boys the prevalence of ADHD rose from 9.9 percent in 2007 to 12.3 percent in 2009 while that of girls increased from 3.6 percent to 5.5 percent during the same time (Schwarz & Cohen, 2013, p. 3). Seven years of age were the average rate of diagnosis, but children with severe ADHD were diagnosed earlier.

The state statistics showed a wide disparity of children percentage diagnosed with attention-deficit hypersensitivity disorder (Getahun, Jacobsen, Fassett, Chen, Demissie & Rhoads, 2013, p. 2). The percentage of the state of Kentucky recorded the highest rate of diagnoses at 18.7 percent, while Nevada had the lowest rate at 5.6 percent. In the late 20th century, the diagnoses of ADHD in children increased from 7 percent to 9 percent from 1998 to 2000 through 2007 to 2009 (Gipson, Lance, Albury, Gentner & Leppert, 2014, p. 5).

Records from Center of Disease Control and Prevention in the United States indicated that the prevalence of ADHD increased by approximately between 10 and 11 percent from 1998 to 2009 for children from humble backgrounds. In addition, the prevalence rose from 1998 to 2009 by nearly 10 percent in the south and Midwest regions of the United States (Polanczyk, Willcutt, Salum, Kieling, & Rohde, 2014, p. 6).

Between 1998 and 2009, the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disease increased for non-Latino white children to 10.6 percent from 8.2 percent. Similarly, reports by the CDC show that for non-Latino, black children the prevalence increased from 5.1 percent to 9.5 percent during the same period in the United States (Schwarz & Cohen, 2013, p. 2). Moreover, non-Latino white children between 2007 and 2009 had higher prevalence of ADHD relative to all other races while Mexican children had the lowest prevalence.

The prevalence of ADHD increased from 1998 to 2009 in the Midwest Region. For instance, from 1998 to 2000, the diagnosis recorded was 7.1 percent as compared to 10.2 percent between 2007 and 2009 in the Midwest Region (Gipson, Lance, Albury, Gentner & Leppert, 2014, p. 3). However, the South Region of the United States recorded an increase of 2.2 percent from 8.1 percent to 10.3 percent during the same period.


The rising rate of ADHD diagnosis among children is caused by misuse of medication at an alarming rate.  There is increasing rate of stimulant prescriptions that lead to overuse of pain medications among children (Morrow, Garland, Wright, Maclure, Taylor & Dormuth, 2012, p. 9). Research suggests that new rates are caused by taking medication, especially for children to perform better in school, or to calm behaviors (Polanczyk, Willcutt, Salum, Kieling, & Rohde, 2014, p. 7). In addition, classmates sell or share pills that increase the health risk and drug abuse. The effects of ADHD diagnosis in children lead to economic loss to the nation as more time is spent seeking medical assistance. In addition, it causes widespread poverty.


Getahun, D., Jacobsen, S. J., Fassett, M. J., Chen, W., Demissie, K., & Rhoads, G. G. (2013). Recent trends in childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. JAMA pediatrics, 167(3), 282-288.

Gipson, T. T., Lance, E. I., Albury, R. A., Gentner, M. B., & Leppert, M. L. (2014). Disparities in Identification of Comorbid Diagnoses in Children With ADHD. Clinical pediatrics, 0009922814553434.

Morrow, R. L., Garland, E. J., Wright, J. M., Maclure, M., Taylor, S., & Dormuth, C. R. (2012). Influence of relative age on diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(7), 755-762.

Polanczyk, G. V., Willcutt, E. G., Salum, G. A., Kieling, C., & Rohde, L. A. (2014). ADHD prevalence estimates across three decades: an updated systematic review and meta-regression analysis. International journal of epidemiology, 43(2), 434-442.

Schwarz, A., & Cohen, S. (2013). ADHD seen in 11% of US children as diagnoses rise. New York Times, 1.