Prevalence, Recognition, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a National Sample of US Children

This study examined the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children in the United States. Also of interest was the impact of socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors on the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Study participants were 3,082 children between 8 and 15 years of age who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and had a diagnosis of ADHD. Children's caregivers completed the caregiver component of the ADHD Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children.

Key Findings:

  • The 8.7 percent of participants meeting DSM-IV criteria for ADHD in the past year translated to a prevalence of 2.4 million American children.
  • Multivariate data analyses indicated that poor children and male children had higher likelihoods of meeting ADHD criteria than wealthier and female children.
  • Non-Hispanic white children were more likely to meet criteria for ADHD-inattentive type than African-American and Mexican-American children.
  • Of children who met criteria for ADHD over the past year, 47.9 percent had received a diagnosis of ADHD from a health care provider according to caregivers. Additionally, 38.8 percent received medication at any one point over the past year with 32.0 percent receiving medication for the majority of the prior year.
  • Being male, older and having health insurance were predictors of a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD.