ADHD News & Research

Over 6 Million Physician Office Visits for ADHD in Children and Adolescents Aged 4-17 During 2012-2013

The CDC reports ADHD physician visit rates are twice as high for boys as for girls.

February 2, 2017

Children with ADHD visit the doctor more than 6 million times each year to get treatment for the condition, according to a new report — and at least 80 percent of those visits involved a stimulant prescription.

The report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2017, looked at children’s doctors’ visits from 2012 to 2013 — the most recent years for which such data was available. It found that 6.1 million U.S. doctors’ visits involving kids between the ages of 4 and 17 — out of more than 100 million visits undertaken by this age group annually —were for diagnosis or treatment of ADHD. This means that approximately 6 percent of all pediatric doctors’ appointments were related to ADHD — up from 4 percent a decade ago.

About 48 percent of the visits were with a pediatrician, 36 percent were with psychiatrists, and 12 percent were with family doctors. Eight out of every 10 ADHD-related visits resulted in a new stimulant prescription (or the continuation of an already existing one). Methylphenidate products were more commonly prescribed than amphetamine products, the authors of the report noted.

Twenty-nine percent of visits involved treatment for another psychiatric diagnosis, and while the report didn’t offer a full breakdown of comorbid disorders, it identified the most common as mood disorders (13 percent) and anxiety (7 percent).

The visit rate was nearly twice as high for boys with ADHD as it was for girls; 147 out of every 1,000 boys were treated for ADHD by their doctors, compared to just 62 out of every 1,000 girls. This syncs up with previously identified ADHD gender ratios.

Since the most recent CDC data puts the total number of U.S. children with ADHD at around 6.4 million, it’s unclear how often each child visited the doctor or whether any one group made up the majority of ADHD-related visits.