Surge in ADHD diagnoses and medications sparks wider worry

Apr 1, 2013 by

Nearly one in five high-school-age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children overall have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the ADHD diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.

The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with ADHD but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

“Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychological Association plans to change the definition of ADHD to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. ADHD is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/31/4154854/surge-in-adhd-diagnoses-and-medications.html#storylink=cpy

via Surge in ADHD diagnoses and medications sparks wider worry – KansasCity.com.

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