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ADHD Estimates Rise

Continued Increases in ADHD Diagnoses and Treatment with Medication among U.S. Children

Two million more children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and one million more U.S. children were taking medication for ADHD over an 8 year period (2003-2004 to 2011-2012), according to a new study [1.81 MB] led by CDC. According to CDC scientists, children are commonly being diagnosed at a young age. Half of children diagnosed with ADHD are diagnosed by 6 years of age.  Children with more severe ADHD tend to be diagnosed earlier, about half of them by the age of 4, based on reports by parents.

ADHD is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. It often persists into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention and/or controlling impulsive behaviors. Effective treatments for ADHD include medication, mental health treatment, or a combination of the two.  When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends.

  • In 2011-2012, 11 percent of U.S. children 4-17 years of age had been diagnosed with ADHD and 6.1 percent of U.S. children 4-17 years of age were taking medication for ADHD. Of the children with current ADHD, 69 percent were taking medication for ADHD treatment. 
  • States vary widely in terms of the percentage of their child population diagnosed and treated with medication for ADHD. The percentage of children with a history of an ADHD diagnosis ranges from 15 percent in Arkansas and Kentucky to 4 percent in Nevada.
  • Medication treatment for ADHD is most common among children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD.
  • Nearly one in five high school boys and one in 11 high school girls in the United States were reported by their parents as having been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare provider.

Note to parents: If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, complete the ADHD checklist, visit CDC's ADHD website and discuss your concerns with your child’s healthcare provider.

Graphics / Images

  • Photo: Young boy reading a book

    ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.

    This is a description for image 1

  • Photo; Children playing in the dirt

    Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active

  • Photo; Children playing in the dirt

    Percent of Youth Aged 4-17 with Current Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder by State: National Survey of Children's Health
    Larger image and text version

  • Photo; Children playing in the dirt

    Percent of Youth Aged 4-17 Currently with ADHD Receiving Medication Treatment by State: National Survey of Children's Health
    Larger image and text version

  • Infographic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and our children

    Infographic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and our children
    Complete Infographic

  • nfographic: Medication forattention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

    Infographic: Medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
    Complete Infographic

  • AHD Infographic

    Infographic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and our children
    Complete Infographic

  • Infographic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder age of diagnosis

    Infographic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder age of diagnosis
    Complete Infographic

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Susanna Visser, MS, DrPh

Biography

Susanna Visser, MS

Early treatment can be a tremendous help to children whose behavior, performance, and relationships are being negatively impacted by ADHD. Behavioral therapy should be the first treatment for preschool-aged children diagnosed with ADHD.

The number of U.S. households impacted by childhood diagnoses of ADHD is growing. When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends. CDC is committed to working with the medical and educational systems to make a difference in these children’s and their family’s lives today and into the future.

Susanna Visser, MS, DrPh - Epidemiologist, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

 
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