(ABC/WSYR-TV) -- The New York Times analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found that overall, 11 percent of all school-aged children -- about 6.4 million nationwide – have attention deficit disorder (ADHD), marking a 53 percent rise over the past decade.
ABC News’ Chief Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser finds the numbers frightening.
“I think a number of things are going on. People are recognizing ADHD better and that’s a good thing, but I think teachers request the diagnosis, so the child can get on medication because it improves behavior; it improves focus,” Besser said.
But because of those effects, misuse of ADHD medication, including Ritalin and Adderall, is also growing, bringing the concern that it may now be overly prescribed.
“Putting this label on a child who doesn’t have ADHD, you don’t want to create disease in a child that’s otherwise healthy and you think that’s what’s happening,” Besser continued.
But, the medication is life changing for those who do need it.
Becky Gaylord McDonald says since her eight year old son was diagnosed with ADHD and started taking medication three years ago, they’ve seen a huge improvement in his behavior and ability to focus. She thinks the new numbers released Monday could mean fewer families are having to struggle for a diagnosis and treatment the way they did.
“I think once people start hearing about it and talking with others, that’s a big reason we’re seeing the increase. It’s not make believe. It’s really, real,” Becky said.
Doctors say every child should have an in-depth evaluation before being diagnosed with ADHD and that it may be worthwhile to get a second opinion from a specialist.