Study: ADHD diagnoses on the rise in the US

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a developmental problem that is typically diagnosed in childhood.

According to a recent study, the number of children diagnosed with ADHD in the United States has increased over the last 20 years.

The study looked at data on the number of children diagnosed with ADHD between 1997 and 2016.

Researchers found that the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD rose from 6.1 percent to 10.2 percent in that time.

Dr. Veena Ahuja, of Cleveland Clinic Children's, did not take part in the study, but said part of the reason why we're seeing more ADHD diagnoses is doctors have more ways to treat the problem now than ever before.

"Whenever there's a better treatment for diagnosis, we see more of it because people are more willing to give the diagnosis now that they know there's something that they can do," she said.

ADHD is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Ahuja said some children struggle with some of these symptoms, but not others, while others struggle with all of them.

Also, some ADHD symptoms can change over time. Ahuja said children who struggle with hyperactivity when they're younger usually have less problems with this when they get into high school.

ADHD can be genetic. Ahuja said its common for parents who have children with ADHD to recall having similar symptoms when they were children.

But she said the good news is that children today have more resources and treatments available to help them thrive.

Ahuja said a common concern among parents who suspect that their child may have ADHD is their child will be labeled in the classroom as a "problem child."

However, she encourages parents whose children are displaying symptoms of ADHD to get an evaluation, because ultimately, a diagnosis can put the child in a better position to succeed.

"I often tell families that knowledge is power," she said. "The symptoms of ADHD are there whether you give it a name or not, but if we name it and describe it, then we can get programs in place to help. The child can get a 504 plan or an IEP in the school to get the support they need." 

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Network Open.