The researchers found that of the 8.7 percent of children who met the criteria for ADHD, only 47.9 percent had been diagnosed with the condition and only 32 percent were treated consistently with medications.
Froehlich said medications can be quite effective, and people with ADHD can lead successful lives if they have been properly diagnosed and treated.
"There are many successful professionals who have ADHD," Froehlich said. "On the flip side, there can be a lot of negative consequences associated with the disorder, such as lower rates of school and career achievement and higher rates of substance abuse, incarceration, injuries and car accidents," she said.
Froehlich said more needs to be done to identify and treat children with ADHD. "It's not a trivial disorder," she said. "It can have an impact on the child and the family if it is not diagnosed and addressed. We need to redouble our efforts to help doctors spot the symptoms of ADHD and make an accurate diagnosis."
Dr. Jon A. Shaw, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine, agrees that ADHD is underdiagnosed and undertreated.
"The study is confirmatory of the general scientific literature," he said. "ADHD is a highly prevalent disorder, the most common psychiatric diagnosis in children, and that, in general, it is being underdiagnosed and undertreated in our community."
Shaw noted that those children most at risk receive the worst care. "It is clear once again that it is the poorest of our community who are deprived of the benefits of the most effective treatment -- psychopharmacology for this condition," he said.
The discovery that ADHD is more common among poorer people is probably re
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