Why have rates of ADHD in kids gotten so high?

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ADHD cases have risen considerably in the U.S.

As of 2022, around 1 in 9 children had been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder at some point in their lifetimes, according to a study published Wednesday. Roughly 6.5 million children ages 3 to 17 had ADHD that year — up from 5.4 million in 2016.

The study’s lead author, Melissa Danielson, a statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are two main reasons for the trend. First, doctors, parents, teachers and kids are becoming more aware of ADHD symptoms, making cases easier to identify. Second, because more treatments are available these days, doctors have more reason to test and diagnose children.

“There’s more providers that are comfortable with making those diagnoses and treating ADHD, which can allow for children to be helped by different medications or behavior therapy or school services. So since there are more opportunities for these kids to be helped, I think there’s more incentive to get that kind of diagnosis,” she said.