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Sarah HostetlerPublished: February, 2013

 JANA Pediatric reports  dramatic increase of from 2001 to 2010 among Kaiser Permanente patients

Diagnosis rates for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have dramatically increased over the last 10 years, according to a study done by JANA Pediatric.

Approximately 5 percent of the nearly 850,000 kids (5-11 years old), measured in the study were diagnosed with ADHD. According to the study’s lead author Dr. Darios Getahun, a scientist with Kaiser Permanente, possibly the largest factor attributing to these results may be the increased awareness of parents and pediatricians alike regarding the disorder. “For kids who need help, that’s a good thing,” said Getahun. Emphasizing on the relevancy of such a study, he feels that
“The earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier we can initiate treatment which leads to a better outcome for the child.”

Many other healthcare professionals are attributing this jump in diagnosis to increased awareness among parents of young children, regarding the symptoms and affects of ADHD.
According to the center for disease control and prevention, ADHD is increasing, and
nearly one in 10 school-age children have an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. What stood out among the study done by JANA Pediatric was that children who came from higher-income families (above $70,000 annually) were more likely to be diagnosed. The highest rates were white children in households with incomes that were over $90,000 annually. While this was not different than past studies, what differed were the increased percentages. In each race studied, boys were more commonly diagnosed than girls, however, African American girls had a highly increased percentage, nearing the boys in their racial category.

Dr. Michelle Matusoff is a Clinical Psychologist in Newport Beach, who specializes in Psychological/Psychoeducational Testing and Assessment of Children, Teens and Adults. Her opinion regarding the results of the study was that while they do mimic what physicians such as herself have been finding throughout the U.S. (increased diagnosis in all income level families), the sample being from Southern California Kaiser Permanente alone is not one that can generalize results of all ADHD diagnosis.’

Matusoff agrees with the shared opinion that the increased awareness has led to an increased number of parents bringing their kids to be tested by physicians. However, she feels that the increased diagnosis can also be attributed to lack of comprehensive testing. “There are a multitude of reasons why individuals might score high on ADHD tests, such as anxiety or even a learning disability,” said Mausoff. A gifted child not being challenged in the classroom could also appear to have ADHD explained Mausoff, as another contributing factor for increased rates.

To view the study in its entirety, click here.


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