Diagnosis of ADHD Has Risen 66 Percent Over Last Decade

More than 10 million children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD in 2010 in the United States

TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- The diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents has increased 66 percent in the last decade, with approximately one-third of these young patients now being managed by psychiatrists, rather than pediatricians, according to research published in the March issue of Academic Pediatrics.

Craig F. Garfield, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues used data from the IMS Health National Disease and Therapeutic Index to evaluate trends for ADHD in children and adolescents under the age of 18 years from 2000 to 2010.

During this time period, the researchers found that physician diagnoses of ADHD increased 66 percent, from 6.2 million to 10.4 million. While psychostimulant medications have remained the mainstay of treatment, their use has decreased somewhat, from 96 percent of treatment visits in 2000 to 87 percent in 2010. The use of atomoxetine decreased from 15 percent of treatment visits in 2003 to 6 percent in 2010. Use of substitute therapies remained relatively stable during the study period. Responsibility for managing these patients has shifted from pediatricians to psychiatrists, with the proportion managed by a psychiatrist increasing from 24 to 36 percent during the study period. Males still accounted for the majority of visits (73 to 77 percent).

"In 10 years, the ambulatory diagnosis of ADHD increased by two-thirds and is increasingly managed by psychiatrists. The effects of these changing treatment patterns on children's health outcomes and their families are unknown," the authors write.

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