ADHD Diagnoses Continue to Climb

A large study in California shows that more kids than ever get diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Is the condition really spreading, or are we just better at detecting it?

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As more children are diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers continue to struggle with understanding whether the rise is real, or primarily driven by greater awareness of the condition.

In the latest analysis, the rate of new cases of ADHD in California between 2001 and 2010 climbed for both sexes and for most ethnic and racial groups for children between the ages of 5 to 11.

But that rise doesn’t address what’s behind the growing number of cases. Are more kids truly suffering from hyperactivity and attention deficits, or are we simply better at catching children who show any symptoms?

The new research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, is among the first to offer hints at an answer. The study is not the first to suggest that ADHD diagnosis may be increasingly common, but it has important advantages over previous work, says the study’s lead author, Dr. Darios Getahun of Kaiser Permanente Southern California. For example, instead of counting all cases reported by parents and teachers (who may make mistakes and either under- or over-report cases), the new study counts only confirmed medical diagnoses by doctors. The new study also includes more children than earlier ones, by pooling health-record data from more than 840,000 kids enrolled in a health plan with the non-profit Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Those children resemble the general population of youngsters in California, Getahun says, and the study group is large enough that researchers could look not just at trends overall, but also at trends broken down by race, age group, sex, and more. And that provides some insights into whether susceptibility to ADHD itself is all that’s changing, or whether our diagnostic criteria are changing too.

MORE: Mom’s Exposure to Mercury Linked to Kids’ ADHD Symptoms

Overall, the study found that 2.5% of kids aged 5 to 11 received a new ADHD diagnosis in the year 2001. Ten years later, in 2010, that number had risen to 3.1%, a relative increase of 24% even after the scientists adjusted for factors such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, and neighborhood average income, which can each influence ADHD risk. But not every group in the study appeared to be affected equally. In fact, the sub-populations with the highest ADHD incidence also tended to be the populations that do best on other measures of health and achievement: that is, kids who are white and living in wealthier neighborhoods and households with a median household income over $70,000 per year.

Meanwhile, the results showed that Hispanic kids are usually older than average when they’re diagnosed, if they are diagnosed at all. Asians and Pacific Islanders have the lowest ADHD incidence. Altogether, the findings suggest that, even though all the kids in the study had access to health care, some may still get be getting different treatment because they face different expectations at home and in the classroom, or because their parents have different attitudes toward mental health service provision. “That variation is very important,” says Getahun.

Families of the Asian children in the study, for example, were less likely to use mental health services to diagnose or treat ADHD, while the more well-off families and well-educated white parents were more likely to access these services, perhaps to excess, as they tended to expect more for their children academically.

MORE: Teens Taking ADHD Pills to Get Good Grades: How Big a Problem Is It?

But the issue of diagnosis remains controversial. On the one hand, says Getahun, “If you diagnose [ADHD] early and you initiate treatment early, the children will do better.” On the other, over-diagnosis may lead some healthy kids to take drugs they don’t need.

Just a generation ago, ADHD was considered rare. Today it’s one of the most common behavioral disorders of childhood, characterized by poor focus, lack of attention, impulsivity, and constant movement, including fidgeting and squirming. Kids with ADHD are more likely to struggle in school, to miss classes, to get injuries, and to have “troublesome relationships” with family members and classmates. Some preliminary studies have even linked ADHD in childhood to adult outcomes such as smoking and career and relationship difficulties.

The size of the study, and the variation in ADHD diagnosis rates among different populations, supports the idea that not all of the rise can be attributed to increased awareness among doctors, teachers and parents of the disorder. While risk factors for ADHD, including brain injury, preterm birth (being born more than three weeks early), exposure to alcohol and tobacco in the womb, and some environmental toxins, such as lead and possibly mercury, may be playing a role in driving the rates higher, researchers still can’t completely explain why more and more children have been diagnosed with ADHD in recent years. But parsing apart some of the cultural and economic factors that may be responsible could help them get closer to an answer.

5 comments
jea
jea

WHO IS REGULATING WHAT?

No Communications Between Our Table, Farmers Association, Monsanto and FDA.

All are on different planets

Who pays the price is us and our children. Most people don't even know how to deal with this insanity!

This information below is in response to: http://healthland.time.com/2010/08/19/a-link-between-pesticides-and-attention-disorders/

JAMA has no published articles about GMO studies and testing that I could find which is interest. Taking a deeper look at GMOs and the meaning of ‘what we put in us’ – I am a concerned citizen - volunteer protestor with CSS Center for Food Safety Group since 2007.

I had a company that was among the few in early stages of organic manufacturing for skin care products.Ray Green state of California said he would certify it USDA approved skincare because it was all made from foods and I believe we were the first to do so.Finding resolve to ‘bugs’ we used herbs to monitor them.

We introduced ‘no sodium laureth sulfates’ and ‘no FDNC colors’ et al in 1996 thanks to my partner, she set a trend ‘slow to catch on’ in motion and I feel looking back now elevated the whole of the industry.We sold to large discounters and top spas around the country.

The no ‘sodium laureth sulfates’ chemical I used had soduium laureth sulfate in it. It was buried in the INCI ‘new name’ of the product.

I manufactured other skincare with chemicals and the more I discovered the scarier it got.Drums of chemicals –you didn’t know what was really in them! Cross-blended with other chemicals to promote a new chemical.

Chemical industry is regulated by ‘nothing’ it appears.More or less regulated by those that sell and chemist and chemical products are only in the care of the labs and anybody has access to them if you put your money on the table.And it’s big money.Making products forpennies an ounce and selling it for gross amounts of money!As 60.00 for a few ounces.

I saw only regulations by INCI NAMES / INFO SHEETS names.On this information sheets it says how to avoid hazards of manufacturing.It states on sheets the health risks as causes cancer and aliments.

There is a great disconnect between industries.See MONSANTO MISSION STATEMENT.The see FARMERS ASSOCATION AND ORGANIC ASSOCIATION MISSION STATEMENTS below. Is there an independent / private association / agency regulating it all where they all come together and work together. Not government.

I created a World Peace Plan around 1991 submitted it to US Missions (Thomas Pickering) for the United Nations.It later was submitted to legislation.An overall plan where nations / countries would share resources and award them based on a winner of best country promoting World Peace.

The agency would work with all these industries and even implementing an award process too.If there is nothing there should be.

See some mission statements of these various organizations in the food business and that you can see a huge disconnect:

USDA ORGANIC MISSION STATEMENT

Our Mission

Ensuring the integrity of USDA organic products in the U.S. and throughout the world. About Us + Reports | USDA Organic Seal

NATIONAL FARMERS UNION

NFU Mission - To advocate for the economic and social well-being, and quality of life of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and consumers and their communities through education, cooperation and legislation. NFU advocates sustainable production of food, fiber, feed and fuel.

and growing grassroots membership.

MONSANTO MISSION STATEMENT

Monsanto is committed to supporting research with academic and USDA scientists who have complementary areas of expertise. This program is designed to develop new collaborative research projects with researchers who have expertise and interests in areas that will enhance our fundamental understanding of corn rootworm that could lead to economical, practical, and sustainable solutions for farmers.

Inclusion of growers in the process will ensure that the research is focused on discovering information that could lead to future corn rootworm management solutions.

Involvement of the academic community as advisors and stakeholders, in addition to expert reviewers, will enrich Monsanto’s understanding of corn rootworm resistance and strengthen Monsanto’s internal programs.

SOME SUPPORTING LINKS:

http://www.quantumrevolution.net/tag/monsanto/

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

If you want to help your kids with ADHD get them off the food chemicals. High Fructose corn syrup, Aspartame, Sucralose(Splenda) they are all legal poisons in your food. You can thank the FDA for approving these drugs. 

There was a 10 year old girl in Starbucks' with her mother and she was pouring the Splenda packets in her drink. Sucralose, Aspartame etc are all chemicals that will  ADHD in kids.  see here http://type2diabetesdietplan.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-child-has-adhd-what-did-they-put-in.html

omegamanradio
omegamanradio

"D" IN ADHD STANDS FOR DEMONS

JESUS CHRIST AND DELIVERANCE IS THE CURE - NOT DRUGS

JimHannington
JimHannington

@thewholetruth The ten year old girl was getting about 50mgs of caffeine.  One Australian food study gave indications that the  red food color additive created excitability in children.  Seperately, I heard that there are flavor additives to cover up the terrible taste of food preservatives.  Go Figure !