A new study from Northwestern University finds that the number of U.S. children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased by a staggering 66 percent in 10 years.
The study will be published in the March/April edition of the journal Academic Pediatrics. For the study, researchers analyzed ADHD trends from 2000 to 2010 among children under the age of 18 who were diagnosed and treated by office-based physicians.
According to Northwestern Medicine's Craig Garfield, M.D., first author of the study, increased familiarity with attention-related difficulties may be behind the increase. “ADHD is now a common diagnosis among children and teens. The magnitude and speed of this shift in one decade is likely due to an increased awareness of ADHD, which may have caused more physicians to recognize symptoms and diagnose the disorder.”
Of particular note, the study found that there has been somewhat of a shift away from primary care doctors towards specialists for ongoing management of ADHD symptoms in children. According to Dr. Garfield, "It may be that general pediatricians are shying away from treating patients themselves and instead rely on their specialist colleagues to provide the treatment and management of these medications.”