Diagnoses of children with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have soared 66 percent in the past 10 years – to more than 10 million kids, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.
The study, published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, tracked ADHD trends from 2000 to 2010 among children under the age of 18 who were diagnosed and treated by office-based physicians.
"ADHD is now a common diagnosis among children and teens," said lead author Dr. Craig Garfield. "The magnitude and speed of this shift in one decade is likely due to an increased awareness of ADHD, which may have caused more physicians to recognize symptoms and diagnose the disorder."
The new study found 10.4 million children and teens under age 18 were diagnosed with ADHD at physician outpatient visits, compared to 6.2 million in 2000.
While the most kids with ADHD are treated by primary physicians, the study found that there has been a shift toward specialists, such as pediatric psychiatrists.
"Recently, there's been more public health advisories issued about problems or side effects of different ADHD medications," Garfield said. "It may be that general pediatricians are shying away from treating patients themselves and instead rely on their specialist colleagues to provide the treatment and management of these medications."