ADHD News & Research

Study: ADHD is Second Most Impactful Health Condition for U.S. Children

The diagnosis rate for childhood ADHD rose 31 percent between 2010 and 2017, according to a new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association study that also revealed an alarming trend: incomplete treatment for half of all children with ADHD.

April 1, 2019

Pediatric attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) diagnosis rates continue to climb — up 31% from 2010 to 2017 among Americans aged 2 to 18 years old, according to a recently published study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.1 In its eight-year study, the company covering one in three insured Americans found that age, gender, and geography all influence the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis. Middle school students have the highest diagnosis rate (9.0%) and boys are twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed. The highest diagnosis rates were found in the South (7.3 to 11%) and the lowest were in the West (3.1 to 5.1%).

The study found that nearly four out of every ten children with ADHD also have an additional behavioral health condition. Nearly 10 percent of middle-school students and 25% of high-school students with ADHD also had depression. For anxiety, these numbers were 23% and 31%, respectively. Learning disorders (26%) were the most common among preschool students with ADHD; LDs were just as prevalent as disruptive behavior disorders (12%) among elementary school students.

In 2017, approximately half of all children with ADHD received treatment comprising medication only. Only 27% were treated with both medication and behavioral therapy, the recommended first-line treatment for young patients and recommended complement to medication, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.2 The largest population of children receiving only medication resides in the South.

According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield researchers, “(ADHD) accounts for 16 percent of the impact all health conditions have on Generation Z (0-19 years old).”


The Impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on the Health of America’s Children. Blue Cross Blue Shield. (Mar. 2019) 

Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management. “ADHD: Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents.” American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Practice Guideline. Vol. 128.  and

ADHD Treatment Recommendations. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Sep. 2018)