Attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder

Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. The causes and risk factors for ADHD are unknown. Scientists are studying possible causes and risk factors for ADHD including genetics, brain injury, environmental exposures (e.g., lead), alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery, and low birth weight.

ADHD prevalence may be increasing

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed neurobehavioral disorder of childhood and has been increasing nationally over the past decade. Because there is no system to track statewide ADHD prevalence, national survey data were used to estimate ADHD in Minnesota.

The National Survey of Children's Health asked parents of children ages 2-17 if a doctor or other health care provider ever told them that their child had ADHD. Nationally, results show that increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed and treated for ADHD.

The percentage of Minnesota children with a parent-reported current ADHD diagnosis increased from 5.7 percent to 8.7 percent between 2007 and 2011/2012 while reported ADHD medication use increased from 3.5 percent to 5.0 percent between 2007 and 2011/2012. These differences are not statistically significant - the data do not show a clear increase.

In 2011/2012, Minnesota had similar estimated percentages of children with current ADHD (7.9 percent), and who take medication for current ADHD (4.8 percent), as national estimates.

Prevalence of ADHD in Minnesota

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Among all children age 2-17. Source: National Survey of Children's Health.
These estimates are based on small sample sizes (2007: n=92, 2011: n=127), and have large confidence intervals [2007: 5.7 percent (4.2-7.1). 2011: 8.7 percent (6.7-10.7)]. True prevalence is not known.

ADHD can be managed

Although ADHD can't be cured, it can be successfully managed and some symptoms may improve as the child ages. Among Minnesota children with current ADHD in 2011/2012, an estimated 74 percent were taking medication for the disorder. The proportion of Minnesota children taking medication for ADHD increased with severity, from 54 percent among children with mild ADHD, to 62.2 percent among children with moderate ADHD and 75.5 percent among children with severe ADHD.

Medication Use by ADHD Severity

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Among all children age 2-17. Source: National Survey of Children's Health, 2011-2012.