WASHINGTON – The number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise, especially among girls.
According to new research, the number of U.S. girls with ADHD jumped 55 percent from 2003 to 2011.
Overall, 5.8 million children – roughly 12 percent of all youth – now have the disorder that causes inattention and behavioral problems for children, says Sean Cleary, lead researcher and an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.
“Traditionally ADHD is thought to be a disorder that’s found among males,” Cleary told WTOP, which makes the jump in girls’ diagnoses notable.
The research was based on a national health survey of parents who were asked whether their child had been diagnosed with ADHD by a doctor or clinician.
Why more girls are diagnosed with the condition isn’t clear. But Cleary said it could be that parents and teachers are better educated about the symptoms that are common to girls,l like becoming withdrawn or verbally aggressive – namecalling, for example.
Although it is possible the condition is over-diagnosed, Cleary said there is a risk too for not properly diagnosing a child with ADHD symptoms.
“That can lead to difficulties in the school, but can also lead to greater difficulties and challenges in adulthood,” Clearly said.
The number of Latino children with ADHD also increased more than 80 percent between 2003 and 2011 and the total number of children with the disorder rose 43 percent during that same time period. The study looked at children between the ages of 5 and 17.