By Alan Mozes
Over the last decade, an increasing number of American children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new government survey reveals.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2007 and 2009, an average of 9% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 were diagnosed with the disorder. This compared with just under 7% between 1998 and 2000.
The survey also indicated that previously notable racial differences in ADHD incidence rates have narrowed considerably since the turn of the millennium, with prevalence now comparable among whites, blacks and some Hispanic groups.
"We don't have the data to say for certain what explains these patterns, but I would caution against concluding that what we have here is a real increase in the occurrence of this condition," stressed study author Dr. Lara J. Akinbami, a medical officer with the National Center for Health Statistics. The findings appear in an Aug. 18 report from the agency.
"In fact, it would be hard for me to argue that what we see here is a true change in prevalence," Akinbami added. "Instead, I would say that most probably what we found has a lot to do with better access to health care among a broader group of children, and doctors who have become more and more familiar with this condition and now have better tools to screen for it. So, this is probably about better screening, rather than a real increase, and that means we may continue to see this pattern unfold."
According to the National Institutes of Health, ADHD is the most common behavioral disorder among children.
Children with ADHD are apt to have problems staying focused, and often suffer learning and behavioral problems as a result of a tendency to engage in hyperactive and/or impulsive behaviors.
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