Report: Whopping 42.9% Increase in ADHD Diagnoses

In a Dec. 9 story, science and tech site Ars Technica reported that, between 2003 and 2011, the prevalence of ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnoses in kids aged five to 17 rose to 12 percent, an increase of 42.9 percent.

As revealed in a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, one in eight young people — roughly 5.8 million — are now diagnosed with the disorder.

From Ars Technica:

“We aren’t able to get at the driving forces behind the trends,” Sean Cleary, coauthor of the study and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at George Washington University, told Ars. But, he said, speculation includes greater recognition of the symptoms, as well as over diagnosis. The latter, is of course a concern, Cleary said. But so is under diagnosis, he added. If ADHD is not caught and treated early, symptoms and problems could persist into adulthood, he explained.

Apparently diagnoses in girls are increasing, along with Hispanic and non-English-speaking children of both sexes. Again, it’s hard to tell whether this comes from greater vigilance, misdiagnosis, or even an increase in Spanish-language health services.