Health Care

Study shows S.C. has among highest ADHD rates

The incidence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is rising rapidly nationally, and South Carolina has among the highest percentage of children diagnosed with the condition, according to a recent report.

The study, reported in the November Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, is based on a 2011 survey of parents. The study found 11 percent of U.S. children 4-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. That’s 6.4 million kids, nearly 2 million more than in 2003.

The numbers in 2011 varied greatly from state to state, with a low of 5.6 percent diagnosed with ADHD in Nevada to a high of 18.7 percent in Kentucky. South Carolina tied for the fourth highest percentage at 15.7 percent, up from 10 percent in 2003. South Carolina also had the fourth-highest rate in 2003.

Researchers said health care systems in some states with higher rates simply have done a better job of diagnosing the problem. But there’s also a strong link to poverty, which leads to higher rates of ADHD. Also, Latino populations have lower rates of ADHD than whites and blacks, so states with high Latino populations often have lower rates of ADHD.

Children with ADHD often have trouble paying attention or controlling impulsive behaviors. When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper medication or behavioral health treatment, they have the best chance of doing well at school and making and keeping friends.

The researchers behind the report said the aim was to chronicle the numbers. Rather than recommend solutions, the report suggest more attention needs to be paid to the problem, and especially to the transition of these children taking ADHD medication into adulthood.

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