ADHD, Diagnosis, ADD, CDC, APA

According to new data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as much as 11% of children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at one point in their lives.

At some point in their lives, 6.4 million children in the US alone have received a diagnosis of ADHD, according to the CDC. The number of children diagnosed with the condition has increased substantially in recent years, with 6.4 million marking a 16% increase since 2007 and an alarming 53% increase 2003.

Perhaps just as shocking is the fact that of these 6.4 million diagnosed children, two-thirds have received a prescription for stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta amongst many others.

This data is the result of an extensive survey of which more than 76,000 parents took part between the dates of February 2011 and June 2012.

ADHD is a cognitive disorder that is characterized by attention deficiencies, difficulty concentrating for extended periods of time, sustaining focus on a task as well as behaving impulsively. There are three distinct types of ADHD that can also exhibit symptoms such as frequent or excessive daydreaming, fidgeting, and talking out of turn or with frequent interruptions.

The condition is usually recognized and diagnosed during childhood, although that is not to suggest adults cannot be diagnosed with ADHD. Additionally, ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in boys than girls.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) cites in its current diagnostic manual that 3-7% of children have ADHD, although other studies have indicated the rates may very well be higher.

Many children’s mental health and ADHD expert weighed in on the new CDC data in various media outlets around the world.

Dr. Xavier Castellanos, professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, said he was not shocked by the new statistics but that they do not tell the whole story when speaking to the Daily News:

Many of these kids probably do have ADHD, but my guess is that in some cases it is not the most appropriate or fitting diagnosis and that some things are being left out. Some of these children may have other disorders or other disorders combined with ADHD. However, what the new statistics do tell us is that a substantial number of kids are struggling, regardless of their diagnosis. 

With more and more studies supporting cognitive treatment for ADHD as a viable option to combat its symptoms, more natural treatment alternatives are coming to the table for parents of children with ADHD. These treatments can reduce or replace pharmaceutical treatments in the right situations and can reduce the harmful effects some of these pills can cause.


  • Emily
    July 28, 2013 Reply

    It’s such a difficult call for parents, you know? Because there is an opposite pushback from the other side who claim ADHD and ADD are “made up” conditions to excuse bad behavior. Even though I know these arm chair know nothings are wrong, they have a certain influence on a sizable chunk of the population and have a potent mechanism to deliver their message (like talk radio!)

    • ADHD Expert
      August 2, 2013 Reply

      Despite all of the evidence on the contrary, don’t still exist in some peoples’ minds as to the legitimacy of ADHD as a real medical condition. Luckily, Additude Magazine put together a great list of comebacks for ADHD doubters should you run into one again.

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