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About 2.4 Million U.S. Children Have Attention Deficit

Poor children more likely to have the disorder but less likely to get treated

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 9 percent of American children between the ages of 8 and 15, roughly 2.4 million youngsters, have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Tanya Froehlich, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, and colleagues analyzed nationally representative survey results collected from 3,082 U.S. children aged 8 to 15 between 2001 and 2004.

The researchers found that 8.7 percent of the children had ADHD based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition). The poorest children were 2.3 times as likely to have the disorder as wealthier children, although they were the least likely to receive treatment. Almost half the children (47.9 percent) were already diagnosed with the disorder and one-third (32 percent) had taken medication for it in the previous year.

"If this study is replicated, etiologic factors that may partially explain these differences -- such as varying rates of in utero tobacco exposure, childhood lead exposure, and complications of pregnancy and delivery -- should be investigated so that future public health efforts can be directed at preventing ADHD in groups at highest risk," the authors write.

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