In just 10 years the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, rose by 24 percent, a large new study suggests.
A comprehensive review of medical records for 843,000 children who were covered by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health plan found that between 2001 and 2010, 5 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 were diagnosed with ADHD, which can cause impulsive behavior and trouble concentrating.
During that time, rates of new ADHD diagnoses also jumped from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010, or an increase of 24 percent.
The study, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that the incidence of ADHD among white children during that time increased the most – from 4.7 percent in 2001 to 5.6 percent in 2010. The incidence rate for African-American children increased in that time frame from 2.6 percent to 4.1 percent, while hispanic children saw their rate increase from 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent.
Children of pacific islander heritage witnessed no change.
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"While the reasons for increasing ADHD rates are not well understood, contributing factors may include heightened awareness of ADHD among parents and physicians, which could have led to increased screening and treatment," said study lead author Darios Getahun in a statement.
"This variability may indicate the need for different allocation of resources for ADHD prevention programs, and may point to new risk factors or inequalities in care."