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An Increasing Trend in the Diagnosis of ADHD in Children?

Updated on March 25, 2013

There seems to be an increasing trend towards diagnosing ADHD in children.

Only a few days ago researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of children allegedly afflicted with this disorder has risen to 1 in 10. The main debate seems to be whether this is an increase in prevalence or an increase in diagnosis.

Reasons for the Apparent Increase in Diagnosis

It was suggested that there may be many reasons for the apparent increases in ADHD, not least of which is our expectation that all children must sit still and pay attention and any of them that don't must have some kind of issue.

Poverty also seems to be an indicator.

One other factor noted was that the East of the US seems to be more affected that the west. There is no known reason for this. Some people have suggested that EMFs or electromagnetic fields may have some effect on the prevalence of ADHD and I was interested to see the population distribution in the US as shown in the photo below...maybe a higher population density could have an influence on the amount of EMR (electromagnetic radiation) that we are exposed to. PLEASE NOTE: this is pure speculation on my part!!


Subjective Testing

The concern with way of diagnosing ADHD is that the patient must show several symptoms from a list that includes, inattention, disorganized behaviour and aggression. See the link below for a full list from the Mayo clinic.

As you can see many of the items on the list could also be attributed to other disorders or even to a normal kid having a bad day!

Because there is such a broad range of symptoms and not all of them are required for a diagnosis then it is difficult to be absolutely certain of a diagnosis.

Genetic Link

There have been studies that suggest a genetic link to ADHD symptoms. However there are not single genes that are involved and it is not likely that it will ever be possible to develop a definitive genetic test even if this was an acceptable option.

Objective Testing

More recently researchers have developed other ways of determining whether a child is really suffering from ADHD that is severe enough to warrant medical intervention. This gives the opportunity for children to be correctly diagnosed and only given treatment if it's really required. For more information take a look at the videos below:

Part 1

Part 2

Drug Treatment Options

Often stimulant drugs are used fairly successfully to treat ADHD e.g., methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), and magnesium pemoline (Cylert). These drugs have found to provide some relief for about 75% of children and adults with ADD.

Low doses of antidepressants have also been used as a successful treatment.

Although these drug treatments are successful patient are often reluctant to take them.

Social Options

There is great value in maintaining routine and providing a sense of safety and security.

Acceptance is something that is very valuable to anyone with mental challenges..and let's face it that includes many of us!

This link is an interesting article on acceptance from ADHDCentral.

Social support is also invaluable to those with ADHD and their carers.

Here's another link to the ADDer World social networking site for adult ADDers.

The Future

It will be interesting to see what kind of progress is made in research into this disorder in the future and whether the current trend can actually be eventually reversed.


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    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 5 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Yep too true Sue...

      I think many kids suffer with overwhelm these days...

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Cat,

      I am shocked by the number of children who are diagnosed with ADHD. I think most of them are being falsely diagnosed. It is way for the drug companies to make more money.

      In our 24/7 society, children have to grow up too fast and aren't allowed to be kids. How can this not have an affect on a child's behavior?

      Voted up and awesome.

    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Cool a Hubnuggets nomination..I'm honoured :-)

      Hi Flora, I'm not sure about the stats for Canada. I've just done a quick search but not turned up anything useful-will do some more research and maybe write another hub specific to Canada..

      Hey Ripplemaker, glad your preschoolers are seeing some success by making lifestyle changes. Having such great support from their parents and other caregivers really helps too.

      Thanks nominators, I'm glad folks are finding this hub useful !

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      We have noticed the increase of students with ADHS in our preschool. Some of the kids we have asked to watch their diet and to refrain from watching too much tv, playing computer games. Some of the kids have improved along with the support of parents and teachers and even their therapists.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! This link will take you to the Hubnuggets hub this week. Be sure to check your email too!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination, catsimmons. Do you know how the statistics here in Canada compares to the US?Ie., is there more accurate testing here than in the US?

    • xXSweetiXx profile image

      xXSweetiXx 6 years ago from The Pacific Northwest

      My youngest was diagnosed with ADHD at 4 years old, an apparent blanket diagnosis, encompassing every symptom he had. Now at 11, we was finally diagnosed with ODD, with no attachment to ADHD. Frustrating for parents, and other adults involved. Its been a long road! Great Hub!

    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      Thanks for your comment Larry, very interesting...

      I think that sometimes it's difficult for people to realize that the names for these disorders are made up by humans to describe a set of symptoms, when actually everyone is unique and should be treated as individuals.

      Your feedback on exercise is good to hear. I can understand this but having the motivation to carry it through is difficult.

      Looking at your profile you are obviously a really smart Guy and it's interesting to observe (from working with them) that many research scientists have sensitivities outside of the "norm" and they seem to be drawn to work where they can be supported and concentrate on their passions.

      I look forward to reading more or your hubs :-)

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 6 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up.

      I have Dysfunctional Sensory Integration. People with DSI often have sensory defensiveness for some very mundane experiences, which we perceive as being painful. An example for me: the sound of a washing machine.

      On the other hand, we are under-stimulated for some other things. For example, the correct type and quantity of daily exercise makes a huge difference in the way that I feel.

      And yes, the expression, "attention deficit" definitely applies to me.

      Some physicians like to pretend that DSI does not exist, because medications are not particularly helpful for people with this condition. Occupational therapists are the ones who usually make the diagnoses, and offer the therapies. There may be a small turf issue here.

      Anyway, there may be an overlap between the symptoms of ADD and those of DSI. It's possible that a few patients are misdiagnosed, and receive inappropriate medications, because DSI is the real issue for them.