CDC says ADHD is 'expanding public health concern': 5 things to know

ADHD diagnoses among kids aged 3-17 are on the rise, and the disorder is becoming an "expanding public health concern" according to a CDC study published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology May 22. 

Here are five findings to note: 

  1. Around 1 in 9 children, 11.4%, in the U.S. have ever received an ADHD diagnosis, and 1 in 10, 10.5%, have current ADHD. These numbers are up from 2016, when 9.9% of children had ever been diagnosed with the disorder.
  2. The ratio of boys to girls diagnosed with ADHD shrunk in 2022 to 1.8:1, down from more than 2:1 in 2016. 

  3. More than half of children aged 3-17 diagnosed with ADHD were currently taking ADHD medication in 2022. Around 4 in 10 received behavioral treatment for the disorder in the past year. The number of children with ADHD receiving behavioral medication declined from 62.0% in 2016 to 53.6% in 2022. Nearly one-third of children with ADHD did not receive any treatment. 

  4. Among all children with ADHD, 41.9% had mild ADHD, 45.3% had moderate ADHD, and 12.8% had severe ADHD. 

  5. Increasing rates of ADHD diagnoses could be due to generally increasing awareness of ADHD and pursuit of care, CDC researchers wrote. The increase could also reflect an increase in pandemic-associated stressors, worsening symptoms of ADHD. Pediatric ADHD remains an "ongoing and expanding public health concern," the researchers concluded. 

Read the full report here. 

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