ADHD diagnoses are on the rise: 11% of U.S. kids are affected

April 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, is a disorder that affects millions of children around the country and here in the Valley. And new research shows the number of kids diagnosed with ADHD has increased 53 percent during the past decade.

ADHD is becoming more common than ever. 11 percent of all school age children have been diagnosed with the disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control.

ABC News Chief Health & Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said, "That is stunning numbers. As a pediatrician I can't believe that many children truly have this disorder. I'm concerned about over diagnosis."

Dr. Richard Besser points to a number of factors - from lack of exercise to the pressure to perform better academically - as reasons why the diagnosis is increasing.

"There's no time for kids to get that energy worked out and when you take these kids and put them in a classroom all day long. You see behaviors you see kids bouncing off the walls and these drugs will get kids bottoms back in the chair, but that's not a good way to go," said Dr. Besser.

Here in Fresno, school officials tell us they're also seeing a similar trend, an increasing number of students with ADHD.

This year, Fresno Unified has seen 200 more students classified as "other health impaired," which includes those with ADHD as well as other health issues.

FUSD Special Educator Director Laura Tanner-McBrien explained, "68 percent of our high school kids that are considered "other health impaired," are boys."

The new statistics also show that 20 percent of high school boys have ADHD. Fresno Unified says they are working with individual students to balance their needs and abilities.

Cheryl Hunt with the Fresno Unified School District said, "We don't want to see large numbers of medical diagnosis of that and I think we just need to be cognisant of what our students needs are."

Experts recommend students get a thorough diagnosis by a doctor. And say figuring out the right combination of behavioral changes and medication can be life changing.

Dr. Besser says two-thirds of children with ADHD will outgrow the disorder over time.


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