10% of American children diagnosed with ADHD, study says

More than 10% 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.

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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& of children had been diagnosed, while 10.2% 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.

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

Across racial lines, African-American children had the biggest surge. More than 12% of African-American kids were diagnosed with ADHD in 2016, up from 4.7% in 1997. White children had the second biggest, from 7.2% in 1997 to 12% in 2016. Hispanic children diagnosed with ADHD jumped from 3.6% to 6.1% 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% boost from 5% in 1997 to 7% in 2016, while the other regions all exceeded 10% 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.