How Common Is ADHD in Children?

The data on ADHD is constantly being updated, but there are some significant trends that can be observed in regards to childhood prevalence. Rates have climbed significantly over the last 25 years.

According to data collected by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), this upward trend has continued fairly steadily since the first study was completed in 1997. At that time, the overall prevalence rate of ADHD in children and adolescents ages 4 to 17 was 6.1%. By 2007, just 10 years later, that number had climbed to 8.1%. The most recent year with NHIS data available is 2016, when the prevalence rate was recorded at 10.2%.

ADHD Prevalence in Teens

The NHIS data shows a more dramatic increase in adolescent cases of ADHD when compared to those of children. In the age 4 to 11 group, the rates increased from 5.3% in 1997 to 7.7% in 2016. During that same period, ADHD prevalence in the age 12 to 17 group grew more dramatically, rising from 7.2% in 1997 to 13.5% in 2016.

ADHD Prevalence by Gender

Boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. That’s reflected in the 2016 NHIS data, which shows 14% of boys with ADHD vs. only 6.3% of girls. That same contrast in prevalence rates has been reflected throughout the years that data has been collected. Even in the first year (1997), rates were 9% in boys and 3.1% in girls.

ADHD Prevalence by Ethnicity

The rates of ADHD in children and adolescents are a little more complicated when looking at race and ethnicity. Not all of the data shows a steady climb, and rates have increased more rapidly in some groups.

Non-Hispanic white children and adolescents have generally had the highest prevalence rates during this period of data collection, beginning with 7.2% in 1997 and increasing to 12% in 2016. However, rates among Non-Hispanic black children and adolescents have increased more dramatically during this time, starting at 4.7% in 1997 and eclipsing Non-Hispanic white children and adolescents in 2016 at 12.8%.

Meanwhile, Hispanic children and adolescents have shown lower rates of overall prevalence at 3.6% in 1997 and climbing to only 6.1% in 2016. Those categorized as “other” went from 3.9% to 7.7% in the same period.

How Common Is ADHD in Adults?

Adults with ADHD aren’t studied as frequently or in as much detail as children with the disorder. In contrast to the NHIS data on ADHD rates in kids, there haven’t been long-term studies following the rates of adult ADHD.

Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) shows that 4.4% of US adults have ADHD. This covers adults ages 18 to 44. Similar to the contrast in rates in boys vs. girls, men had higher prevalence rates (5.4%) than women (3.2%).

Diagnosis vs. Incidence

When looking at this data, it’s important to note that the data reflects the diagnosis rates of ADHD. It’s much harder to calculate how many people actually have ADHD since so many people are thought to be undiagnosed.

For example, many ADHD experts believe that there may be a significant number of girls and women who are undiagnosed since ADHD symptoms often present a bit differently in females. Furthermore, there are concerns that some adults with ADHD may be undiagnosed because they’ve either learned to mask their symptoms over the years, or their symptoms may be misdiagnosed as another condition, such as depression or anxiety.

While these prevalence statistics are very helpful in understanding how common ADHD is and noting trends in diagnosis rates, there may be many people with ADHD who simply have not received the care they need. If you’d like to be screened to ADHD, get in touch with us at Done and we’ll set up a telehealth appointment for you.