New study reports 43% increase in rates of ADHD over past decade

Memphis, TN (December 11, 2015) – Rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis in U.S. school-aged children have increased substantially in recent years, particularly among girls and Hispanic children, according to a new study published online-first in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The study, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Parent-Reported Diagnosis of ADHD: National Survey of Children’s Health (2003, 2007, and 2011),” can be accessed at

The study, which used data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, revealed that the prevalence of ADHD increased by 43% from 2003 to 2011, which translates to 5.8 million youth and young adults with an ADHD diagnosis nationwide. Although non-Hispanic white children still have the highest diagnosis rate overall, large increases were seen among groups who do not traditionally present with ADHD, including  Hispanics (83%), non-English speakers (107%), older adolescents (52%), and girls (55%).

The researchers, Sean D. Cleary, PhD, MPH, and Kevin P. Collins, BS, from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, examined parent-reported diagnosis of ADHD, and their data represented 200,000 children aged 5 to 17 years.

“Although ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in boys, parent-reported prevalence for girls has risen from 4.7% in 2003 to 7.3% in 2011; this corresponds to a 55.3% increase, compared to a 39.8% increase in boys. This may reflect an increased understanding of ADHD symptoms in girls, which can manifest differently than in boys,” noted Collins and Cleary in the article.

Despite the fact that the diagnosis rates in certain groups have increased, the study still uncovered significant disparities in parent-reported ADHD by race and ethnicity. Hispanic and other minority parents were significantly less likely to report a diagnosis of ADHD compared to whites and blacks, and lower rates of ADHD were observed for non-English speakers. Economics, family status, and neighborhood safety factors also affected ADHD diagnoses across racial and ethnic groups.

According to the authors, “While the reasons for this increase in prevalence remain unclear, ADHD diagnoses, treatment, and service utilization represent a growing economic cost to the United States and merit continued monitoring.”


The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed publication that is indexed and abstracted by the National Library of Medicine, is the official publication of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, and is among the top 10 most cited psychiatry journals. JCP covers the newest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health and neuropsychiatric disorders, including ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, addiction, and posttraumatic stress disorder. JCP is published by Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc., a leading medical publisher and owner of

Sarah Craig


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