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Majority of 2.4 Million U.S. Children With ADHD Not Diagnosed or Consistently Treated, According to New 'Gold Standard' Study by Cincinnati Children's Researchers
Date:9/3/2007

CINCINNATI, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Most children in the United States who meet the medically accepted definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have not been diagnosed by a physician, and are not consistently treated with medications, according to the first national ADHD prevalence study in children based on the "gold standard" of diagnostic criteria, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The study, published in the September 3 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, marks the first time researchers have been able to estimate nationwide prevalence of the disease and rates of diagnosis and treatment by using a national database and the most accepted criteria for defining specific mental health conditions. They found that 8.7 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 8 and 15 years, or approximately 2.4 million children, meet validated ADHD diagnostic criteria. However, more than half have not been diagnosed and about two-thirds were not receiving consistent treatment with ADHD medications. Moreover, girls with ADHD are more likely to go unrecognized, and the poorest children had the highest ADHD prevalence and were the least likely to have consistent treatment.

"This national study is among the most rigorous yet conducted on the U.S. prevalence of childhood ADHD and the first time we've been able to estimate nationwide treatment rates in those children who meet strict criteria for the disorder," says Tanya Froehlich, M.D., a Cincinnati Children's physician and the study's lead author. "There is a public perception that U.S. children are overdiagnosed and overmedicated for ADHD -- our study was not designed to address this issue. But what is clear from our study is that, among U.S. children currently suffering from the disorder, the opposite problem of under-diagnosis and under-treatment of ADHD appears to be occurring."

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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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