According to new research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, more than 10% of U.S. children (a total of 5.8 million children ages five to 17 years) have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This reflects a large spike in cases in recent years, especially among minority groups and girls, which experts attribute to better screening and monitoring. Diagnosis rates have jumped from 8.4% of children in 2003 to 12% by 2011. The study co-author Sean Cleary, a public health researcher at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., notes that females may be getting diagnosed more often because ADHD symptoms such as being withdrawn or internalizing are no longer being overlooked. According to the research, white children still made up the majority of cases, but diagnosis rates climbed higher for black and Hispanic youth. Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a psychology researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who wasn’t involved in the study told Reuters Health, “It’s possible that some of the increase in diagnosis is due to some children having avoided diagnosis in the past as a result of having less severe symptoms, more coping strategies or a stronger support system… Alternatively, it could be that increased pressures on adolescents to perform and achieve are leading to a push for more ADHD assessments.” Unfortunately, with cases on the rise, it could be that parents or teachers are simply looking for a way to explain away normal active child behavior or that kids aren’t getting as much active play time as in the past. Whatever the reason, we hope doctors and parents aren’t jumping to conclusions, as the CDC notes that an astounding rate of 10,000 toddlers in the U.S. are being medicated for ADHD.

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+ Source: Reuters Health via Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

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