ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
ADHD in Children: What’s the Latest?
ADHD in children seems to be rising. Is that because doctors are more aware of it today? Learn about the gender gap, treatments, and outlook for kids with ADHD.
ADHD is a chronic behavior disorder known as a neurobehavioral disorder that primarily affects children and can impact their life significantly. Children with ADHD may perform poorly at school, dislike academic work, and suffer from low self-esteem.
Learn the latest on this common childhood condition.
ADHD Rate Rising
Studies published in JAMA Pediatrics show that the ADHD diagnosis rate in children seems to be rising. The rate of diagnosis among elementary school-aged children enrolled in one Southern California health insurance plan increased from 2.5 percent to 3.1 percent. It had a relative increase of 24 percent between 2001 and 2010.
When compared to the entire child-aged population, a small number are affected. However, it prompts the question: are more children developing ADHD symptoms? Or are more doctors diagnosing the condition today than in past years?
Factors of Color and Economic Status
The latest research about those affected by ADHD reveals that color and economic status may play a role. For unknown reasons, children living in high-income households are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. White children are among the highest risk group, followed by African-Americans and Hispanics.
The Gender Gap
Current trends show that boys with ADHD significantly outnumber girls with the condition. The Ohio State University explains that boys are two to three times more likely to display symptoms of ADHD.
However, in some areas of the country, as evidenced by the Southern California studies published in JAMA Pediatrics, African-American girls are quickly catching up.
Treatment for Children: Medication
The good news for children with ADHD is that the condition can likely be treated effectively with medication. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 70 and 80 percent of kids who take stimulant drugs for ADHD show a reduction in symptoms.
Advances have also been made in the use of non-stimulant medications, including anti-depressants, in children with ADHD. Anti-depressants carry fewer side effect risks than stimulant drugs. They also can help curb aggression, control mood swings, and improve attention span.
Treatment for Children: Behavior
Although medication is effective for many children with ADHD, some parents choose another route. Parent- and teacher-orchestrated behavior programs can improve concentration and reduce disruptive outbursts.
Following a routine can help kids organize their thoughts. Knowing the consequences of not completing a task can incentivize kids to follow through. Offering incremental rewards can also help them meet agreed-upon goals.
New research shows that extra rest may play a role in controlling impulsive actions. In one study, kids who slept more at night were able to control their emotions more easily and showed behavioral improvements.
Children who have ADHD are extremely susceptible to co-existing conditions, mainly depression. Depression in children with ADHD can sometimes be difficult to spot because some of the symptoms are similar.
Studies published in JAMA Pediatrics report that children whose mothers were depressed during pregnancy showed a high risk of depression. Youngsters diagnosed with ADHD at a very early age (before 7 years old) also had a high risk of developing a depressive disorder.
Prediction of Future Health
ADHD can be a predictor of future health issues in some children, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Follow-up studies performed 33 years after boys were diagnosed with ADHD showed that they engaged in a number of risky behaviors as adults.
The ADHD group drove more erratically and sustained more head injuries and sexually transmitted diseases than the control group. Men with ADHD since childhood were also admitted to the emergency room more often than those without the neurobehavioral condition.
Early intervention for children with ADHD can help them learn to live with their disorder. It can also reduce the threat to their future physical and mental health.
Parents who observe frequent inattention, hyperactive, or impulsive behaviors in their child should contact their pediatrician.