ADHD Rates Creeping Upward

November 19, 2010

Rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, have crept upwards over the past few years—parents are now reporting that almost one out of 10 children and teens in the United States have been diagnosed with the condition at some point.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a nationwide survey of over 73,000 children's parents between April 2007 and July 2008. The results of this survey were compared to a similar survey conducted in 2003.

The CDC analysis found that rates of parent-reported ADHD climbed from 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007, a 21.8 percent increase. The survey also revealed that ADHD was reported more than twice as often in boys (13.2 percent) as in girls (5.6 percent), and two-thirds of the children and teens with ADHD were taking medication for the disorder.

An editorial that accompanied the CDC report attempted to explain the rise: "Increasing rates of estimated ADHD prevalence might indicate an actual increase in the number of cases of ADHD or changes in diagnostic practice over time, which might have been influenced by increased awareness of the disorder over the period of study."

The editorial also noted that the report has some limitations, including a reliance on parental recall and dissimilarities in the questions between the two survey periods. Nonetheless, "[o]ngoing surveillance is critical to understanding the public health effect of ADHD and the needs of a growing number of families affected by this disorder," the authors wrote.

Source: CDC: Increasing Prevalence of Parent-Reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children—United States, 2003 and 2007. November 12, 2010 / 59(44);1439-1443.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 18 Nov 2010

Last Modified: 27 Aug 2015