The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the US seems to have increased dramatically, a new study finds
Between 1997 and 2016, the proportion of children with ADHD increased from 6.1 percent to 10.2 percent, researchers in JAMA Network Open reported.
More awareness of the condition could be a factor, study co-author Dr. Wei Bao from the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa.
"There could be several reasons," Bao said in an email. "Firstly, physicians and health professionals are better able to know this condition than they were before to better recognize and diagnose the condition, and secondly, the public is more aware of the condition and increases the likelihood that affected children will be examined and diagnosed. " Biological factors may also play a role, such as premature babies or infants who survive but are at a higher risk of developing ADHD. "
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Bao and his colleagues have their 20-year reaction to the Health Status Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention They focused on one question in the survey: "Did a doctor or health expert ever tell you that (your child) had attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD)?"
The Survey of 2016 included data on 18,107 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17. A total of 1,880 people were diagnosed with ADHD and the researchers found that there were significant differences in race / ethnicity and gender prevalence Boys compared to 6.3 percent in girls and 12 percent of non-Hispanic white children compared to 6.1 percent of Hispanic children and 12.8 percent of non-Hispanic black children reported
Bao suspects the disparity between girls and boys may be at least partly due to the fact that ADHD tends to express itself differently depending on gender. "Boys tend to be more active than girls, so boys are more likely to be recognized for hyperactivity," he said. "Girls may manifest as an attention deficit, which is (harder to recognize than hyperactivity)."
Experts suggested that some of the "diagnoses" might be wrong.
"You really need to interpret the study with care," said Amie Bettencourt, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. "The authors acknowledge that they used parents' reports about whether a doctor or a doctor had told them their child had ADHD," Bettencourt said. There are many conditions that include attention problems and hyperactivity as symptoms, it is possible that it is on the rise, but it is also possible that these could be symptoms of something else. "
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Bettencourt has seen many misdiagnoses. "I specialize in small children," she said. "The increased rigor of the kindergarten leads to many false identifications of ADHD, a time when children still develop the ability to sit still, years ago there was not so much sitting still, learning was more play and experience based."
What the polls tell us, Bettencourt said, "is that many children are struggling with social, emotional and behavioral difficulties."
Dr. Richard Gallagher, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, New York City, is also concerned about misdiagnosis
"This is not based on a standard diagnosis," said Gallagher. "Parents are told by a health care professional that the child suffers from this disease, which does not necessarily mean that a thorough diagnosis has been made in all cases, there are standards for a thorough diagnosis, it is not based on a quick impression much information is collected and spoken to by parents and teachers. "
ADHD is not diagnosed just because a child has problems with attention and hyperactivity, Gallagher said. "The child really has to fight and the symptoms must have a negative impact on his life."