New CDC Report Looks at Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

For Release: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800


Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning Disability: United States, 1997-98. Series 10, No. 206. 18 pp. (PHS) 2002-1534. pdf icon[PDF – 2.9 MB]

According to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.6 million elementary school-aged children have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In a national survey, the parents of 7 percent of children 6-11 years of age reported ever being told by a doctor or health professional that their child had ADHD.

The report, “Prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning Disability,” based on 1997-98 data from CDCs National Health Interview Survey, shows that about one-half of children diagnosed with ADHD have also been identified as having a learning disability.

“This report serves as a snapshot of a condition that has important consequences for the development of school-age children,” said David Fleming M.D., Acting CDC Director. “However, much more needs to be learned about ADHD and about the spectrum of impairments associated with ADHD.”

The report details many of the characteristics of children with ADHD, learning disability, and children with both conditions. Among children with a diagnosis of only ADHD, boys were nearly three times as likely as girls to have this diagnosis. White non-Hispanic children were more than twice as likely as Hispanic and black non-Hispanic children to report a diagnosis of ADHD.

In addition, access to health care plays an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Children with health insurance coverage were more often reported to have a diagnosis of ADHD than children without health insurance coverage.

The study shows that children with ADHD use more health care services than children without this diagnosis. Children with ADHD were more likely to have contact with a mental health professional and to have frequent health care visits.

“There has been concern in some circles that ADHD has been over-diagnosed among those with regular access to health care,” said Fleming. “And there is equal concern that the problem may be under-diagnosed among those who have limited or no access to care. It’s clearly important to accurately identify children with ADHD and ensure that they have appropriate health care.”

The report “Prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning Disability” was prepared by CDCs National Center for Health Statistics and can be found at the CDC/NCHS Web site.

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.


Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006