Older Children Being Diagnosed with ADHD More Frequently

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Last week, a report was released showing that older children (over the age of 12) were being diagnosed with ADHD more frequently than previously. The rate of diagnosis for children under the age of 12 remained the same. For children ages 6 through 11, the rate of diagnosis was around 7 percent. However, for children ages 12 through 17, the rate increased to almost 10 percent. The report was completed based on data compiled from a government survey of over 35,000 households. The survey did not include information on why parents sought a diagnosis for children older than 12 years old. Some experts consider these finding to be surprising.

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    There are a number of theories to explain this increase:


    • Doctors (and parents) are accepting that older children who have concentration problems may have a problem causing the difficulties.
    • The abuse of medications, such as Ritalin, may be prompting older children to request a diagnosis in order to receive a prescription.
    • A better understanding of ADHD has shown that a child can have ADHD without being disruptive, impulsive or hyperactive.
    • Older children may have other conditions, such as depression, they are being treated for and the diagnosis of ADHD comes along with the treatment.
    • The increase in advertising for medication for ADHD has driven up the number of diagnosis.

    Do you have any thoughts on these different theories? What do you believe may be the reason for the increase in diagnosis among this age group?


Published On: August 04, 2008