ADHD Diagnoses Increased More Than 50 Percent in a Decade

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-111380762/stock-vector-pills.html?src=csl_recent_image-1">Monkik</a>/Shutterstock

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


In 2011, eleven percent of school-age children had been diagnosed with ADHD That’s a sixteen percent more than in 2007 and 53 percent more than a decade ago, according to a New York Times analysis of new data from the Center for Disease Control.

This comes out to a grand total 6.4 million children in the US, up to 4 million of whom have prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, or other medication, a class of drugs that brings in an estimated $9 billion in sales annually. The Times found that boys, particularly teenage boys ages 14-17, have the highest rates of diagnosis, though no one knows why:

The New York Times

The director of the CDC told the New York Times that “The right medications for A.D.H.D., given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate.” The CDC estimates that we spend $31.6 billion annually in health care and work absence costs for children and adults with ADHD and their families.

Clearly, more and more kids are being diagnosed with ADHD. What the new study doesn’t tell us is whether more and more kids actually have it. Another recent CDC study, that both surveyed parents and screened children, suggested doctors are over-diagnosing ADHD in some kids while overlooking the condition in others. The survey, which focused on South Carolina and Oklahoma, found that of children taking ADHD medication, only 40 percent in South Carolina and 28 percent in Oklahoma actually met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

In other words, the current system for diagnosing kids with ADHD is probably not working very well. Meanwhile, as another recent story in the Times demonstrated, concerns over the potential side effects of ADHD medications—which can include addiction and anxiety—are mounting.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate