10 percent of American children diagnosed with ADHD, study says

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What is ADHD? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the initials ADHD stand for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It's a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. Some of the symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. Conditions common in people who have ADHD include learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression and substance abuse.

More than 10 percent of American children have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is a significant increase during the past 20 years, according to a new report.

» RELATED: Does my child have ADHD? Things to know about the condition

Researchers from the University of Iowa recently conducted a study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association, to determine the prevalence of the condition among children in the United States over the last two decades.

To do so, they used data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual assessment of about 35,000 households. A total of 186,457 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 from 1997 to 2016 were included in the analysis.

After examining the data, they found a steady rise of diagnoses among kids between 1997 and 2016. From 1997 to 1998, about 6.1 percent of children had been diagnosed, while 10.2 percent had been diagnosed between 2015 and 2016.

"Our findings indicate a continuous increase in the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD among U.S. children and adolescents," coauthor Wei Bao said in a statement.

The analysts saw an upward trend across gender, race, family and geography, but all the increases were not uniform.

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As for gender, their findings showed that 14 percent of boys were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016, compared to 9 percent in 1997. On the other hand, girls saw just a 3 percent hike, from 3.1 percent diagnosed in 1997 to 6.3 percent in 2016.

Across racial lines, African-American children had the biggest surge. More than 12 percent of African-American kids were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016, up from 4.7 percent in 1997. White children had the second biggest, from 7.2 percent in 1997 to 12 percent in 2016. Hispanic children diagnosed with ADHD jumped from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent within the same time span.

The numbers varied by geography, too. The researchers said children in the Western region were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, compared to those in the Northeast, Midwest or South. Diagnoses in the Western region only saw a 2 percent boost from 5 percent in 1997 to 7 percent in 2016, while the other regions all exceeded 10 percent in 2016.

While the authors did not explore the cause of the uptick, they hypothesized that more awareness of ADHD and a diminished social stigma for ADHD could all be factors. They noted previous studies, which said environmental, prenatal and perinatal risk factors could also be components.

Want to learn more about the results? Take a look here.

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