43% Increase in ADHD Diagnoses among School-Aged Children in US

Justin Karter
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Citing a 43 percent jump since 2003, researchers estimate that 5.8 million school-aged children and teens in the US now have an ADHD diagnosis, a staggering 12 percent of this population. The new NIH-funded analysis also found that the percentage of girls diagnosed with ADHD was up 55% and that the percentage of Hispanic children diagnosed shot up 83% over the same time-frame.

Increasing trends in ADHD diagnoses were observed for school aged children of all ethnic groups in the US
Increasing trends in ADHD diagnoses were observed for school-aged children of all ethnic groups in the US

“Economics, family status, non-English language in the home, and neighborhood safety factors differentially impacted diagnosed ADHD across racial/ethnic groups,” the study’s lead author, Dr.  Sean D. Cleary from George Washington University, concluded. “Although new insights into the role of economic, family, and neighborhood factors on parent-reported ADHD diagnoses were noted, more research is needed to understand causes of the observed racial/ethnic disparities.”

While many have tracked the shocking rise in ADHD diagnoses in the US, few studies have addressed the differential prevalence by gender, race, and ethnicity. To do this, Cleary and his team analyzed data from 2003-2011 in the National Children’s Survey sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The database included parent reported diagnostic and demographic data on 190,408 children aged 5–17 years.

The researchers found that the rates of ADHD diagnoses among certain subgroups were significantly outpacing the already sharp rise in diagnoses overall. The parent-reported prevalence of diagnoses among girls, for example, increased 55 percent from 4.3% in 2003 to 7.3% in 2011, compared to 40% of males. For adolescents between ages 15 and 17, the prevalence increased 52%.

“Although the ADHD prevalence was still highest among whites,” the researchers found that “increasing trends were observed for all racial/ethnic groups, most notably among Hispanics, increasing 83% from 2003 to 2011.”

In an interview with Medical Xpress, Cleary would not speculate on the underlying reasons for this increase in diagnoses overall or within ethnic minority groups, saying that it could be a “true increase” or a result of over-diagnosis.

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Collins, K., Cleary, S.,. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Parent-Reported Diagnosis of ADHD. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, (Abstract)

13 COMMENTS

  1. Top Five Reasons To Abolish the Department of Education

    http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2011/09/top-five-reasons-to-abolish-department.html

    Lets add child drugging to the list of reasons !

    And look at these,

    http://www.protectingbadteachers.com/

    http://www.teachersunionexposed.com/

    Time Magazine is Attacked for Telling the Truth About Teachers Unions http://www.weeklystandard.com/time-magazine-is-attacked-for-telling-the-truth-about-teachers-unions/article/817663

    But instead of fixing any of this they drug the students,

    Lets drug the teachers, lots and lots of ADHD kiddy meth for the lazy teachers instead ! It would work it really would, there is nothing like amphetamines to combat laziness.

    • The_cat:

      Please refrain from stereotyping teachers with a broad brush by calling them “lazy”. Three of my colleagues in Rethinking Psychiatry are current or retired/former school teachers. They get it. They understand the epidemic of bogus diagnoses and the role of advertising and big Pharma influences on this epidemic of labeling and drugging children. The last thing I would call my colleagues is ‘lazy’. Until you have walked in their shoes and had to manage a class of forty children, many of whom arrive to class, unprepared, undernourished, under-loved, etc. and been faced with marching orders to ‘teach to the test’ you don’t have a right to blame teachers for this shameful epidemic. There is enough blame to go around. Words hurt. Please use caution with your words. My friend Marcia, who founded Rethinking Psychiatry, cut her community organizing teeth in the teacher’s union, in Portland, Oregon which plays a vital role in sticking up for the dignity and rights of teachers, many of whom are getting a lot of society’s problems dumped in their laps. I think the same is true any others in ‘helping professions’. Tnese kind of hurtful devisive words are preventing us from finding overlapping values and achieving unity within our movement. Teachers in general do incredible work and they have a shit load of challenges to deal with without being called lazy.

  2. ADHD is a not a medically proven disease, children diagnosed with it are given speed, and there are no long run benefits found in children who have been so stigmatized and drugged. Actually, their outcomes are worse in the long run, especially since forcing speed on children predisposes them to using the street drugs in the future. Which is perfectly logical to all sane humans, who learned when they were children, that taking speed is unwise.

    I agree, we absolutely need to get the Federal government out of the education business. Their corporate controlled agenda is to create stupid worker bees for large corporations, not properly educate people to be free and innovative thinkers.

    And when you do end up with a brilliant child who gets 100% on his state standardized tests, the school social workers want to drug the child up, despite my child having zero behavior problems, and being almost every teacher’s favorite student because he was so well behaved and bright, according to my child’s teachers. I had to send my children to private school for high school because my school district finally confessed “we aren’t equipped to deal with the brilliant children.” One would think my family would be owed tax rebates, given our local school district’s inability to do its job.

    As to, “Cleary would not speculate on the underlying reasons for this increase in diagnoses overall or within ethnic minority groups, saying that it could be a ‘true increase’ or a result of over-diagnosis.” I do know my moron of an ex-psychiatrist was intentionally attempting to get more little girls and women diagnosed as ADHD:

    http://www.howtolearn.com/2011/04/adhd-in-women-and-girls/

    But he is also a complete misogynist – thinks women who want to go back to get their master’s degrees have “delusions of grandeur” (I do wonder what century he believes he lives in), he thinks driving to Chicago to the same hairdresser I’d seen for well over a decade and having lunch with my brother is a “sign of mania,” he believes dream queries are “psychosis.” He is just a completely delusional loon, who knows absolutely nothing about the adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs, he thinks the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome are “bipolar.” And he creates anticholinergic intoxication syndrome in people with his drugs, so he may aid and abet in covering up easily recognized iatrogenesis for incompetent and paranoid doctors and medical evidence of child abuse for the ELCA religion. Although his medical records do state he thought the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome symptoms were “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia,” so he’s probably just extraordinarily stupid. He also believes Chappaqua, NY is Chippawa, NY. He also believes Miami University in Oxford, OH is a “fictional” university. Truly, I’ve never met a more delusional person in my entire life. He also believes my entire life is a “credible fictional story.” Misogynistic, child molestation covering moron. And, hey, now we know covering up child abuse is the primary function of all psychiatrists in our society today. I live in a sick world, God save the decent.

    • Well…actually, what these statistics do is completely destroy any premise of ADD or ADHD of having any scientific validity. It is statistically impossible for an increase of an (allegedly) epigenetic ‘brain-disease’ to take these kind of drastic leaps within a single generation, especially as disproportionately represented by race and gender. There is an epidemic to be sure, but one falsely carried on the back of the most vulnerable-and likely to the most essential of the lesser represented aggregates: i.e., introspective, sensitive, artistic children, etc. The ‘epidemic’ is structural, not quasi personal.

  3. it SHOULD BE criminal to drug healthy children in order to control their behaviour. But not only is it not criminal, a lot of pharma corporation drug reps and managers will be enjoying very fat end-of-year bonuses from the bonanza borne of this check-list diagnosis. Good luck to the generations of kids whose brains develop while marinating in these chemical soups. Welcome to dystopia 🙂

    Liz Sydney
    Parent of an undrugged, difficult child

  4. I’ve no doubt kids are more stressed at an early age these days, thanks to the incremental increase in the stress of life over the last decade or so, rising pretty sharply daily now, I think, along with all sorts of fear and anxiety. I’m also fairly certain that a diagnosis is totally irrelevant and will always only result in totally avoiding the real issue(s). But I’m also sure it’s good for business, which, to me, would explain the increase in numbers of those diagnosed. It’s a money thing.

    • That was the intent of my comment about childhood during the “happy days” of the fifties; before life became stressful for kids, “mental health” problems were almost non-existent. As life became more stressful for kids and the DSM III labeled the distress as a disorder of the brain (or the mind), we started drugging emotional distress. The result is an epidemic of emotional suffering for our youth.

      • Yeah, we need to stop scapegoating our kids for the mess we make, as adults. One we reverse this trend and take responsibility for how we react to life–and know that there are worse and better choices to make, here–then we might get somewhere as far as healing ourselves while at the same time creating a safer, more nurturing, less anxiety-driven society. One would hope, in any event…

  5. I’m so glad I’m not a kid in this generation. Teachers only teach to test, the economy is terrible, the future is uncertain at best, and economic inequality is growing. Lots of kids live in varying levels of poverty, which certainly can’t be good for “attention span.” Add in…crumbling communities, job insecurity, marital instability, the rising cost of…well, everything, but college, in particular…its a rough time in which to be a kid. Plus, as if giving Rx meds to kids for…well, being kids…wasn’t bad enough, we now have police officers in schools, 0 tolerance policies across the board, social media (now there’s No Escape from those school bullies..thanks, facebook), and a culture that demands strict conformity. No, we don’t have as many state mental hospitals…we now have jails, prisons, boot camps, some private, for profit mental facilities…its a hot mess, really.

    Ever noticed how now that the state mental hospitals are gone, we’re encouraged to check ourselves for signs of disorder? Seroquel wants to know…”Do you have Bipolar I?” Vyvanse wants to know…”Wouldn’t your life be better with a slow release amphetamine?” I mean, who needs the big state mental hospitals if the people/patients/consumers check each other and themselves for signs of disease and disorder?

  6. Like some demented pied piper they come for our children . What is their long range plan ? For whom are they concerned ? What reply would inconvenience them the most ? Boycott all mainstream medicine and pharma products, drugs, as much as possible . No vaccinations , flu shots , etc. Accept no installation of any metals from dentistry . Distill your own drinking water . Avoid chemicals and pesticides and insecticides as much as possible . Eat only organically grown food as possible . Grow some if you can .Learn about these things . If possible group together in small groups and home school children . Learn about Traditional Naturopathy , Homeopathy , Energy healing systems , Herbs . Read Edwin Black’s book “War Against The Weak ” to see what they have historically done , who they are and to understand the direction of their goals . We the people must demand freedom in our health decisions and the right to reject all and any coercive oppressive dictates from anyone or any organization . Fascism must end . Corporations are not people. Those corporations or cartels that endanger the people should legally again be possibly dissolved by decisions of the people in honest courts of law. Psychiatrists must in mass burn their own DSM and other supporting forms , shock boxes and any other oppressive paraphernalia in their deadly arsenal or face the consequences doled out by an awakened people . I really like that last one . I’m sure there is more to add. Get your slimy hands off our children !

    • I think you’ve got the right idea, Fred, when you talk about boycotting services. I’ve always believed that’s the most powerful activism, simply to stop using toxic products and services, and go in the direction of self-reliance. That’s how we take back control of our own lives.

      These days, with all the stuff you mention, which is all over the internet–how to live off the grid–we have ample opportunity to learn a new way of living, so much more healthful, natural, freeing, and with control over our own destiny, day to day. It’s pretty much the new road, for those of us who’ve really finally had it with mainstream academic society, after all that fighting and struggling with it, complaining about it and trying to change it. And still, the wars continue, both global and social, with no end in sight. Many of us are exhausted simply from the sheer effort of fighting a cement wall. Makes people sick to be always fighting.

      There is a better way, and it’s doable, many are doing it now.

      And of course when it comes to our physical and mental health, there are already tons of alternatives in place and up and running. It’s just a matter of being open to exploring new options. Were everyone to go in this direction, I’m positive that we’d discover there is no need whatsoever for psychiatry.

      Of course, in this case, that is a long haul for some people, it would have to be done in increments, because some people are heavily dependent on these products and services, which, of course, is how it is set up and intended to be, which is the problem here.

      Still, there are a lot of people who fight against the system, and still use it, work in it, or are connected to it one way or another (meaning, financially). That’s a split which will keep things stuck. When people boycott something, it has to be 100% or it will not be credible or effective because that is hypocritical, not walking the talk.

      But when we do follow through with our own values and intention to turn our backs on the industry we condemn as harmful and socially irresponsible, then we take away the life blood of the beast and it will dwindle and eventually die off on its own. Gotta start somewhere to trust away from this obviously malignant industry.