PhotoTwo million more children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and one million more U.S. children were taking medication for ADHD over an 8-year period (2003-2004 to 2011-2012), according to a study led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Scientists say children are commonly being diagnosed at a young age. In fact, half of children diagnosed with ADHD are diagnosed by 6 years of age.  Children with more severe ADHD tend to be diagnosed earlier, about half of them by the age of 4, based on reports by parents.

ADHD, one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood, often persists into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention and/or controlling impulsive behaviors.

Effective treatments include medication, mental health treatment, or a combination of the two.  When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends.

Diagnosis and treatment

In 2011-2012, 11% of U.S. children 4-17 years of age had been diagnosed with ADHD and 6.1% of U.S. children 4-17 years of age were taking medication for ADHD. Of the children with current ADHD, 69% were taking medication for ADHD treatment.

States vary widely in terms of the percentage of their child population diagnosed and treated with medication for ADHD. The percentage of children with a history of an ADHD diagnosis ranges from 15% in Arkansas and Kentucky to 4% in Nevada.

Medication treatment for ADHD is most common among children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD.

Nearly one in five high school boys and one in 11 high school girls in the United States were reported by their parents as having been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare provider.

What to do

If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, complete the ADHD checklist, visit CDC's ADHD website and discuss your concerns with your child’s healthcare provider.

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