ADHD Diagnosis
Cold Hard Facts About ADHD in the United States

Cold Hard Facts About ADHD in the United States

Teenage girl with a stack of books and laptop computer sitting on desk

The American Psychiatric Association recently stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) an astounding finding regarding ADHD.

Its newly gathered data showed that 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD. Furthermore, several other studies simultaneously estimated even higher rates in community samples.

When parents were surveyed to better estimate the incidence of this disorder, the results were as follows:

    • Close to 9.5% or 5.4 million children 4-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD in one point of their lives, as of 2007.
    • The number of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22% between 2003 and 2007.
    • Rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an even more severe 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007.
    • In general, boys(13.2%) were much more likely than girls (5.6%) to receive a diagnosis of ADHD from a healthcare provider.
    • Interestingly, rates of verified ADHD increased at a greater rate among older teens compared to younger children.
    • The highest rates of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis appeared among children covered by Medicaid as well as multiracial children.
  • Parent-reported ADHD diagnosis varied in frequency depending on geographic factors. Nevada reported a 5.6% while North Carolina reported a record 15.6%.

Medicating Our Youth

  • In 2007, 2.7 million children ages 4-17 years were receiving medication treatment for the disorder. That is an estimated 66.3% of those with a current diagnosis.
  • Children aged 11-17 years of age received medication more often than those 4-10 years of age. Boys are 2.8 times more likely to take medication than girls.
  • In 2003, geographic variability indicated that medication was used most prevalently in Arkansas (6.5%) and least in in California (2.1%)

ADHD and Peers

  • Parents of children diagnosed with ADHD report almost 3 times as many peer problems as those without a history of ADHD.
  • Parents also report that children with a documented history of ADHD are 10 times more likely to have difficulties that interfere with friendships.

Accident Prone

  • A higher percentage of parents of children with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder reported non-fatal injuries for otherwise healthy children.
  • Children diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to have major injuries that sometimes required hospital inpatient care as well as hospital outpatient and/or emergency department admission.
  • Data from international sources clearly suggest that young people with high levels of ADHD related difficulties are at greater risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash, drinking and driving, and traffic violations.

These are all sobering statistics that urge parents to take a closer look at a problem that can and should be treated in order to improve the quality of life of the child as well as the family as a whole.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” Accessed September 27, 2011.

American Psychiatric Association, “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” Accessed September 27, 2011.