Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Statistics: ADHD By the Numbers

How Many Children Have ADHD?

There is a lot of hyperbole surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder statistics. After all, half of the children in any given class seem to be on ADHD medication so some people believe. But is that true, or do people see ADHD where no true diagnosis exists?

In truth, there are conflicting attention deficit hyperactivity statistics for how many children have been diagnosed with ADHD. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), an authoritative work that many mental health practitioners treat with reverence, anywhere between 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD. But surveys from parents seem to contradict these numbers.

According to parent responses to surveys (quoted by the CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 9.5% of their children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. If we translate these statistics to a classroom that has thirty students it will likely contain anywhere between one and three children with an ADHD diagnosis. Not quite half the class, is it? These statistics point out that many people over exaggerate just how many students seem to be obtaining an ADHD diagnosis in today's classrooms. So are fewer children being diagnosed with ADHD?

Statistics About ADHD Diagnosis

Although these attention deficit hyperactivity disorder statistics tell us the basic facts about how many children have been diagnosed, there are additional statistics that help us understand the diagnosis process.

For example, it is important to note that boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. According to Dr. Russell Barkley, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina who has done intensive research into ADHD and those who are affected by it, boys are actually three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls.

In addition, 40% of children with an ADHD diagnosis have at least one parent who shares that diagnosis, and the two groups who had the highest percentages of children with an ADHD diagnosis were parents of multiracial children and those covered by Medicaid.

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD has changed in recent years. Between 1997 and 2006, the percentage of children who were diagnosed with ADHD increased by 27%; that was an average of 3% per year. Between 2003 and 2007, the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD increased by 22%, an average of 5.5% each year. Although these years overlap with each other, it is important to note that the rates of ADHD diagnosis are steadily rising, and if the figures are to be believed they show no sign of letting up anytime in the near future.

NB: The content of this article is for information purposes and is not intended to replace sound medical advice.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

ADHD Child, https://www.adhdchild.org/articles1.html

Health Central, https://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/c/1443/13716/addadhd-statistics

This post is part of the series: Theories and Statistics of ADD and ADHD

Looking for some information about Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder? These articles in this series contain information about the statistics of ADD and ADHD to help you understand these disorders.
  1. Attention Deficit Disorder Statistics: How ADD Can Affect Your Child
  2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Statistics