ADHD Diagnoses Increase from 7% to 9% in Children
Many years ago, when my son was first diagnosed with ADHD there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the "label" of ADHD. Some people didn't consider it a valid diagnosis but instead saw it as a made up diagnosis, created by the pharmaceutical companies to make money. Parents, the critics of ADHD said, jumped on the diagnosis as a way to excuse their child's poor behavior and as a reason to not discipline their children. We've come a long way, we now know that ADHD is a legitimate diagnosis and that our children aren't inherently bad. We understand that ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that impacts them in many aspects of their life. But the question of whether it is underdiagnosed or overdiagnosed has always remained.
Some children diagnosed with ADHD probably are misdiagnosed. But experts have also long believed that there are many children who should be diagnosed and receiving help and are not. This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new information showing that the number of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years old diagnosed with ADHD has increased. The prevalence rate was previously considered to be 7 percent, the new data shows 9 percent of children are now diagnosed with ADHD. The CDC did not look at reasons for the increase, it simply looked at the number of diagnoses.
In the years since my son's diagnosis, we are much more aware of ADHD. Parents and medical professionals understand and are better able to recognize symptoms. More children struggling with symptoms, such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness get diagnosed and are treated. This could account for the increase in diagnosis. According to an article on ABCNews, Michael Manos, head of the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health at the Cleveland Clinic states, "We're far better at noticing it now, and that is good...Most informed professionals will concur that it is better reported and recognized. This fact has resulted in the prevalence increases."
Almost all ethnic groups saw an increase in diagnosis of ADHD, with the exception of people of Mexican descent. This might be because of language barriers or differences in cultural attitudes. Because the report did not look into reasons, it is not clear whether there is a lower rate of ADHD in those with Mexican descent or if there is a lack of awareness and access to information and medical care.
The report also indicated that there was a higher rate of diagnosis in families living below or close to the poverty line. According to the data, for those below the poverty line, 10.3 percent of children were diagnosed and in families living just above the poverty rate, 11 percent of children were diagnosed with ADHD.
What do you think? Do you think the rise in the rate of diagnosis is caused by increased awareness? Share your thoughts.
For more information:
Is ADHD Overdiagnosed?
ADHD diagnoses on the rise, CDC says, 2011, Aug, CNNNews.com
ADHD on the Rise: Almost One in 10 Children Diagnosed, Says CDC, 2011, Aug, Mikaela Conley, ABCNews.com