1 in 10 US children has ADHD, survey says
ATLANTA — A government survey says 1 in 10 US children has ADHD, a sizable increase from a few years earlier that researchers think might be explained by growing awareness and better screening.
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, makes it hard for children to pay attention and control impulsive behavior. It’s often treated with drugs, behavioral therapy, or both.
The new study found that about two-thirds of the children who have ADHD are on medication.
The estimate comes from a survey released yesterday that found an increase in ADHD of about 22 percent from 2003 to the most recent survey, in 2007-08. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed parents of children ages 4 through 17 in both studies.
In the latest survey, 9.5 percent said a doctor or health care provider had told them their child had ADHD.
Researchers calculate that about 5.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, which suggests that about 1 million more children have the disorder than a few years earlier.
Scientists don’t have clear answers about why there was such a significant increase. The study’s lead author, Susanna Visser of the CDC, suggests greater awareness and stepped-up screening efforts are part of the explanation.
One specialist found it hard to believe that so many children might have ADHD. “It sounds a little high,’’ said Howard Abikoff, director of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders at New York University’s Child Study Center.