ADHD diagnoses have been soaring in the United States, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has shown.
Experts at the Mathematica Policy Research organization analyzed data collected through National Surveys of Children’s Health, which had been carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the years 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Information pertaining to around 190,000 kids had been included, based on parents’ answers regarding their offspring’s physical and mental health.
It was determined that at the moment ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affects approximately 5.8 million U.S. children between the age of 5 and 17. This is the equivalent of more than 1 in 10 of all the kids across the nation.
The prevalence of this brain development disease has skyrocketed in the last decade, especially among minorities and females.
Researchers believe that this doesn’t mean that the condition has become more virulent, but simply that screening methods have improved, and that there is now superior access to medical care even for those who hadn’t benefited from such assistance before.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is in fact among the most widespread childhood ailments, and usually manifests itself through 3 main behavior disruptions: inattentiveness, impulsiveness and excessive restlessness.
A kid with ADHD is usually prone to daydreaming, gets easily bored or confused, frequently misplaces objects, appears not to pay attention during a conversation and has trouble carrying out tasks or instructions.
Moreover, this condition hampers the ability to process new information or to acquire knowledge, to give one’s undivided attention or to notice minute details.
When it comes to the hyperactive aspect of this condition, children suffering from ADHD tend to be extremely garrulous, always on the move, overly alert and playful, and unable to stay seated without fidgeting.
Lastly, their impetuous nature makes them likely to have trouble waiting, to interrupt others, to show little tact when expressing themselves, and to indulge in reckless behavior.
Scientists believe that greater awareness has been raised among parents and physicians regarding these easily identified patterns, and this is why diagnoses are now much more common.
Apparently, back in 2003 just around 8.4% of the kids in the United States had been reported as suffering from ADHD, whereas in 2011 diagnostic rates had climbed to 12%.
The number of boys found to display ADHD symptoms has increased by 40%, such cases now making up 16.5% of the male population.
Meanwhile, the percentage of girls who have been told they have this condition has risen by 55%, from around 4.7% to 7.3%.
Although ADHD remains much more common among boys, it seems that the gender gap may be closing as far as the detection of this disorder is concerned, because physicians are now more cognizant of the fact that for females manifestations are more internalized than among their male counterparts.
Various age groups have experienced different progress when it came to having ADHD accurately diagnosed: among those aged 15 to 17, the rate of detection has soared by 52%, while those aged 10 to 14 experienced lower spikes (of around 47%), and those between the ages of 5 and 9 only had an increase of 33% in the number of documented cases.
In addition, the percentage of African-American kids diagnosed with ADHD has grown by 58%, whereas for Hispanics rates have jumped by as much as 83%.
While this research does have some limitations, such as a relatively small sample size and excessive reliance on respondents using landlines, the findings are in accordance with prior studies, which had suggested that certain population categories may not have benefited from adequate diagnostic tools.
Quyen Epstein-Ngo, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan, believes that detection rates have experienced a boost also due to greater academic demands which have led to more frequent ADHD screenings.
Another factor may also be the increased openness shown nowadays when it comes to recognizing and embracing children’s special needs.
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