What are the long-term trends in prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among US children and adolescents over the past 2 decades?
In this study of data from 186 457 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 years from the National Health Interview Survey, a nationwide, population-based, cross-sectional survey conducted annually from 1997 to 2016, the estimated prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in US children and adolescents increased from 6.1% in 1997-1998 to 10.2% in 2015-2016.
Among US children and adolescents, the estimated prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder increased significantly between 1997 and 2016.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common in US children and adolescents. It is important to understand the most recent prevalence of ADHD and its long-term trends over the past decades.
To estimate the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD and 20-year trends from 1997 to 2016 among US children and adolescents using nationally representative data.
Design, Setting, and Participants
In this population-based, cross-sectional survey study (National Health Interview Survey), surveys were conducted annually from 1997 to 2016. A total of 186 457 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 years from 1997 to 2016 were included in this analysis. Data were collected through in-person household interviews with a parent or guardian. The data analysis was performed in January 2018.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosed by a physician or other health care professional.
Among the included 186 457 children and adolescents (96 017 boys [51.5%], 51 350 Hispanic [27.5%], 91 374 non-Hispanic white [49.0%], 28 808 non-Hispanic black [15.5%], 14 925 non-Hispanic other race [8.0%]), 14 704 children and adolescents (7.9%; 10 536 boys [71.7%], 2497 Hispanic [17.0%], 9010 non-Hispanic white [61.3%], 2328 non-Hispanic black [15.8%], and 869 non-Hispanic other race [5.9%]) were reported to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. The weighted prevalence of diagnosed ADHD was 10.2% (95% CI, 9.6%-10.8%) in 2015-2016. There were significant sex and racial/ethnic disparities in the prevalence of diagnosed ADHD. The prevalence was 14.0% (95% CI, 13.1%-15.0%) in boys and 6.3% (95% CI, 5.6%-7.0%) in girls, 6.1% (95% CI, 5.2%-7.0%) in Hispanic individuals, 12.0% (95% CI, 11.1%-12.9%) in non-Hispanic white individuals, and 12.8% (95% CI, 11.0%-14.5%) in non-Hispanic black individuals. Over the 20-year period, the estimated prevalence of diagnosed ADHD in US children and adolescents increased from 6.1% in 1997-1998 to 10.2% in 2015-2016 (P for trend <.001). All subgroups by age, sex, race/ethnicity, family income, and geographic regions showed a significant increase in the prevalence from 1997-1998 to 2015-2016.
Conclusions and Relevance
This study’s findings suggest that among US children and adolescents, the estimated prevalence of diagnosed ADHD increased significantly between 1997-1998 and 2015-2016. This study suggests that additional research is needed to better understand the cause of this apparent rise in prevalence.