In 10 years, diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased 24% in southern California, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Doctors reviewed anonymized medical records for children treated at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California physicians group between 2001 and 2010 – 842,830 children in all, according to the research.
Overall, in 2001, 2.5% of children aged 5 to 11 were diagnosed with ADHD, but that number crept up to 3.1% by 2010.
Researchers believe the study’s method, reviewing actual medical records within a defined group, gives a more accurate picture of ADHD in Southern California than other estimates.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates a much higher rate of ADHD – about 9.5% of U.S. children aged 4 to 17 in 2007 – but that estimate relies on parents responding to telephone surveys, a relatively inaccurate method.
Also, the vast majority of ADHD diagnosis in the study were by specialists using a strict definition of ADHD, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). One study cited in the new research found that only 38% of primary care physicians actually used the DSM-IV for diagnosing ADHD, further complicating other estimates of the condition.
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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education