70 percent increase in ADHD among black children, study finds
Many parents lament over their children not following directions, lack of focus or inability to sit still. These actions are often seen “out of control” and “bad” behavior. However, it may be a sign of ADHD. According to a recent study by Getahun and colleagues published in JAMA Pediatrics, ADHD diagnoses are increasing among youth.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity-disorder is the most common child disorder, which affects about 4.6 million American (eight percent) school aged children. ADHD is ‘a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity.” These symptoms should have begun before age seven, must be present for at least six months and cause problems in everyday functioning in at least two settings (e.g., school vs. home).
A recent study by Getahun and colleagues found a 70 percent increase in the number of ADHD diagnoses among African-American children, with a 90 percent increase among African-American girls. This is compared to smaller increases in other groups — 60 percent among Hispanic youth and 30 percent among white youth. Dr. Richard Gallagher of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders at NYU Child Study Center cautions to not be alarmed that there has been a huge jump in the use of the diagnosis of ADHD. In fact, several studies show youth of color have previously been under-diagnosed for ADHD.
How does ADHD affect children?
Children with untreated ADHD are more likely to have problems in school because they are easily distracted and have difficulty learning. Untreated ADHD also impacts social relationships because children with ADHD often don’t get along well with others. An additional consequence of untreated ADHD is an increase in physical injuries due to hyperactivity and disruptive outbursts.
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