CDC Finds Growing Number of ADHD Diagnoses in Older Kids

Study finds the rate of ADHD in children 12 and older increasing, while it remains steady for younger children.

Thursday July 24th - 9:51am

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the rate of ADHD diagnosis for children over the age of 12 is rising, while it has stayed about the same for younger children.

The study is based on data from the years 1997 through 2006. During each of those years, officials went door-to-door to conduct survey research of more than 35,000 households. The CDC estimates that in each of those years, there were approximately 50 million children between the ages of six and 17, and that about four million of them were diagnosed with ADHD.

The study found that for children 11 years old and younger, the rate of diagnosis remained around seven percent throughout the study, but that the rate increased from approximately seven percent to almost 10 percent for older children.

Still, most children are diagnosed by age 11, which is typical of childhood disorders.

Although the CDC study did not look reasons for the increase in diagnoses for children aged 12 to 17, researchers have suggested that as doctors become more educated about ADHD, they are more willing to consider the diagnosis for older children. Increased knowledge may also lead to the diagnosis of children who may not have been considered for ADHD in the past, such as those who are not disruptive or hyperactive, but who have trouble concentrating.

Other experts believe that the marketing of ADHD drugs for teens and adults, as well as the misuse of stimulants by high school and college students, may also play a part in the increase in diagnoses.

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