CDC reports sharp rise in ADHD diagnoses among children during the pandemic

1 in 9 children ages 3-17 were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2022, study finds.
Posted at 10:13 AM, May 24, 2024

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder cases have risen considerably in the U.S., according to a new study by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study released on Wednesday said 1 in 9 children ages 3-17 had been diagnosed with the disorder at some point in their life as of 2022.

Roughly 5.4 million kids actively had ADHD in 2016, but just six years later, the number had increased to over 6.5 million. The jump in diagnoses may be good as kids are getting screened more.

The study notes, however, that the pandemic might have had a role in the higher number of children diagnosed with ADHD.

"Children experiencing symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety during the pandemic may also exhibit symptoms of inattention and impulsivity, potentially leading to a diagnosis of ADHD when other diagnoses may be more appropriate," the study says.

A doctor's stethoscope.

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Of children diagnosed with ADHD, 41.9% had mild ADHD, 45.3% moderate ADHD, and 12.8% severe ADHD, the study said.

Researchers say becoming more aware of ADHD symptoms makes cases easier to identify. There are also more treatments available these days, giving doctors more reason to test and diagnose children.

The CDC said that medication is the most common form of treatment among children and adolescents with ADHD. In 2016, approximately 62% of children with ADHD were being treated with medicine.

The CDC says that common signs of ADHD include when a child might daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, squirm or fidget, talk too much, make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks, have a hard time resisting temptation, have trouble taking turns and have difficulty getting along with others.