Study: ADHD Diagnosis In Young Children Increases A Staggering 24%
A new study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is indicating the incidence of physician diagnosed ADHD in children aged 5 to 11 years old has increased overall by 24%.
The new ecologic study analyzed trends of physician diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) using medical records from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health plan database.
The Kaiser Permanente researchers analyzed the medical records of all children ages 5 to 11 years old from the health plan. Of the 842,832 children in this age group, 39,200 have been diagnosed by Kaiser Permanente physicians with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, fully 4.6% of the target group.
The data used for the study covered the period of time from January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2010.
The incidence of ADHD diagnosis in 2001 was 2.5%, and by the year 2010 had increased to 3.1%, a relative increase of 24%.
The incidence of ADHD among white children during that time increased from 4.7% in 2001 to 5.6% in 2010, and the incidence rate for african-american children increased in that time frame from 2.6% to 4.1%, while hispanic children saw their rate increase from 1.7% to 2.5%, and children of pacific islander heritage witnessed no change.
The studies most significant result was the fact that african-american girls saw an increase in diagnosis of ADHD of 90%.
Overall, boys generally are diagnosed with ADHD more than girls, and the increase in incidence rates for african-american girls may indicate that the gender gap normally associated with that target group is decreasing exponentially.
Dr. Darios Getahun, M.D., PhD, research scientist for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, in Pasadena, California, lead author of the study, indicated that the new study was indicative of other nationwide studies, but the strength of the Kaiser Permanente study is in the extreme number of children analyzed.
“We relied on the clinical diagnosis of ADHD and medication prescriptions rather than teacher or parent report,” indicates Dr. Getahun. When asked about the excessive increase of ADHD diagnoses over that period of time, he indicated that, “it’s an increase that warrants attention.”
“The findings suggest that the rate of ADHD diagnosis among children in the health plan notably has increased over time. We observed disproportionately high ADHD diagnoses rates among white children and notable increases among black girls.”
The study also indicated that children from upper middle class families, households with an average annual income of $70,000 plus, had increased risk factors for the development of ADHD.
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