ADHD diagnosed in about 1 in 9 US children, CDC says

About one in nine children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their childhood, and those numbers rose exponentially between 2016 and 2022, a new study found. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.1 million, or 11.4% of children in America, have ever been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, with 6.5 million, or 10.5%, of children currently living with ADHD. 

"Pediatric ADHD remains an ongoing and expanding public health concern," the study’s authors wrote. 

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What is ADHD? 


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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that affects functioning and development. 

People with ADHD may experience the following symptoms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health: 

  • Difficulty staying on task or focused
  • Difficulty staying organized
  • Excessive fidgeting/moving constantly
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Acting without thinking
  • Difficulty with self-control
  • Inability to delay gratification
  • Making important decisions without considering long-term consequences

What the ADHD in children study found

The CDC study found that 1 million more children had been diagnosed with ADHD in 2022 than in 2016. 

Melissa Danielson, a statistician with the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the study's lead author, said those numbers aren’t surprising because the data was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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"A lot of those diagnoses... might have been the result of a child being assessed for a different diagnosis, something like anxiety or depression, and their clinician identifying that the child also had ADHD," Danielson told NPR. 

Roughly 58% of children diagnosed with ADHD have moderate or severe ADHD, while 78% had at least one co-occuring disorder. 

About half of the children have been prescribed medication to treat ADHD, while 44% of them had received behavioral treatment. About a third of the children diagnosed with ADHD haven’t been treated for it at all. 

Researchers hope the latest study can help policymakers and health care systems to "plan for the needs of children with ADHD."

The study was based on data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.