July 13, 2024

A million more children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2022 than in 2016

Just over seven million US children, or one in nine, have now received a diagnosis of ADHD, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

The study also shows that approximately one million more children aged 3-17 received an ADHD diagnosis in 2022 than in 2016.

Among children currently living with ADHD, 58.1% were classed as having moderate or severe symptoms.

77.9% have a co-occurring disorder, 53.6% received medication and 44.4% received behavioral treatment in the last year. Around 30% received no specific treatment.

The results of the new study were taken from analysis of the 2022 National Survey of Children’s Health. They show that the estimated prevalence of the ADHD, according to parental reporting, is significant higher in the US than in other countries.

The study authors believe that increased awareness of the condition is largely responsible for the increase in diagnoses.

“Public awareness of ADHD has changed over time. ADHD was historically described as an externalizing disorder with a focus on easily observable hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, and was thought to primarily affect boys,” the authors say.

“With increased awareness of symptoms related to attention regulation, ADHD has been increasingly recognized in girls, adolescents, and adults. Moreover, ADHD has previously been diagnosed at lower rates among children in some racial and ethnic minority groups. With increased awareness, such gaps in diagnoses have been narrowing or closing.”

The authors also believe that the pandemic brought greater awareness of the condition, as parents were forced to look after their children and manage their learning at home.

“Circumstances related to the pandemic may also have increased the likelihood that a child’s ADHD symptoms could cause impairment. For example, in families where children needed to engage in virtual classroom learning while parents were also working from home, previously manageable ADHD symptoms may have become more impairing or symptoms that were previously unobserved by parents may have become recognizable.”

The study also revealed that Asian and Hispanic children have a lower prevalence of ADHD than white children; that children with less well-educated and poorer parents had a higher prevalence; and that children in the Northeast, Midwest and South were more likely to be diagnosed, as were children living in rural or suburban as opposed to urban areas.

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