By 2020, the number of people in the United States with ADHD would have more than doubled to almost 14 million people, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which counts ADHD among the diagnoses of the disorder.
The NCE estimates that by 2030, ADHD will be the fourth leading cause of disability in the country.
The numbers are staggering, but it doesn’t mean that the world is ready to change its ways, says Amy Cramer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
“We don’t know what the right way to go about tackling this is,” she says.
“If we want to be proactive, then we need to be very aware of the symptoms, and what’s causing the symptoms.”
To get a better idea of how ADHD affects children, Cramer and her colleagues at the Child Health Research Center (CHRC) analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, which is conducted every two years.
The survey collects data on kids between the ages of 1 and 14 and their parents.
The researchers used a large number of data points to estimate ADHD prevalence rates for every state and city.
They also took into account the number and gender of children in the state, as well as the number, age and gender in the city.
The findings were striking: ADHD rates were highest in the states that have the highest numbers of students in kindergarten, and the lowest in those with a smaller number of students.
States with the highest number of children enrolled in kindergarten had higher rates of ADHD, as did those with the lowest number of kids enrolled.
But when researchers looked at the number in each state, the findings were more complicated.
The authors also looked at how ADHD was diagnosed.
They found that most kids diagnosed with ADHD are likely to be misdiagnosed and treated with antipsychotic medications.
ADHD medication can help with some symptoms, but not most.
In other words, the medication can only be effective if the child has ADHD symptoms, not if they’re not.
The next step, the authors say, is to identify how ADHD is treated and how it can be managed.
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Cramers and her team looked at data from children in a school district in Massachusetts.
They analyzed data on students enrolled in the district’s kindergarten program in the early 1990s, and their ADHD diagnosis from that time forward.
In the early 2000s, the researchers also looked into school districts across the United Kingdom, and found that the rates of childhood ADHD diagnoses were much higher than the national rates.
The paper, which was co-authored by Jennifer J. Bogaerts, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, examined data from more than 1,000 school districts in England, France, Sweden and Denmark.
The authors analyzed data for preschoolers and young children, including their diagnoses from the early 1900s through 2010.
They found that ADHD was significantly more prevalent in children who were diagnosed as early as in the 1920s, than children diagnosed as later.
By the late 1930s, ADHD rates had increased to more than 10 percent in children.
By the late 1980s, they found, the prevalence of ADHD was still higher than in the general population.
In the 1990s and 2000s there was a spike in ADHD diagnoses in preschoolers, who are more likely to have experienced problems in school, and more likely have parents with ADHD symptoms.
But the prevalence was still much higher in children than in adults.
“When we look at the ADHD population in terms of prevalence, we are looking at the most vulnerable population,” says Bogaets.
“It is likely that we have underestimated the extent of this problem in the community.”
The authors say the rise in ADHD prevalence is not just because more children are being diagnosed.
Instead, they say, ADHD is also linked to changes in the environment in which children are raised, and these changes can impact their ability to thrive in school.
“What happens in school is really what affects the ability of the child to thrive, and that’s how we have this enormous ADHD epidemic,” says J.C. Batson, professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
“When you have that many kids, that many students, that is not good for your children.”
“It’s an important distinction to make when looking at ADHD,” says Cramer.
“In terms of the nature of the disease, we think the prevalence is actually lower in children, whereas the rate of ADHD is higher.
And we think this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Cramer, Bogaarts, and Bogaetts also point out that children who have ADHD have a higher risk of having behavioral problems later in life, and they are more often likely to develop other developmental problems, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities.
The results of the study are promising, but there are