ADHD Diagnoses Rise 24 Percent Over Past 10 Years

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • From 2001 until 2010, the number of new diagnoses of ADHD rose a significant 24 percent according to a study completed by Kaiser Permanente. The results of the study were published in the January 21, 2013 edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

    Researchers looked at almost 850,000 medical records of children receiving care at Kaiser Permanente Southern California from 2001 through 2010. Some of the results of the study:

    • New diagnoses of ADHD rose from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent, an increase of 24 percent.
    • White and African-American children were more likely to be diagnosed than Asian or Hispanic children
    • There was a 90 percent increase in diagnoses in African-American girls and an overall increase from 2.6 percent in 2001 to 4.1 percent in 2010
    • New diagnoses in Hispanic children rose from 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent
    • Diagnoses in white children rose from 4.7 percent to 5.6 percent
    • 3 times as many boys were diagnosed with ADHD than girls
    • Households with income of more than $30,000 annually were more apt to be diagnosed

    Lead researcher, Darios Getahun, M.D., believes the study provides strong evidence of what other studies have also shown because, “We relied on the clinical diagnosis of ADHD and medication prescriptions rather than teacher or parent report.” [1]  

    Reasons for the Rise in Diagnoses

    Some may question whether the study provides evidence that ADHD is over-diagnosed, however, many experts believe that the rise in diagnoses is due more to increased awareness of the symptoms by parents and doctors. In an article on, Dr. Roberto Tuchman, director of autism and neurodevelopment at Miami Children’s Hospital stated, “As we get more sophisticated in our ability to recognize the symptoms and behaviors that constitute ADHD, we are beginning to identify more people with it.” [2]

    Tuchman believes there may be some overdiagnosis in wealthy communities, however, based on the higher number of diagnoses in families making over $30,000 per year. This may be because in those communities there is a higher pressure to perform better academically. He thinks better outreach is needed in poor communities.

    According to CBSNews, one expert believed that society is less accepting of rowdy kids today and this may cause an increase in the number of diagnoses because these children are being referred for treatment more often than in previous years.

    For more information:

    Diagnosing ADHD

    Is ADHD Overdiagnosed?

    Myth: ADHD is Over Diagnosed


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    [2] “ADHD Diagnosis Rates Up 24 Percent Over Decade,” 2013, Jan. 22, Michelle Castillo,[1]


    “ADHD Rises by Almost 25% in 1 Decade,” 2013, Jan. 21, Kathleen Doheny, WebMD

    “Recent Trends in Childhood Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” 2013, Jan. 21, Darios Getahun, M.D. et al, JAMA Pediatrics

Published On: January 28, 2013