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Posted Sep 01 2005 12:00am

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report on the “Prevalence of Diagnosed and Medicated Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: United States, 2003” that is well worth review. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most rapidly growing behavior problems in the US. Children with ADHD who need special education services are most often identified under the category “Other Health Impaired”; US definitions of disability under IDEA Part B regulations include “attention deficit disorder” (ADD) and “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD) among the conditions that make a child eligible for services under the “other health impairment” (OHI) category.

Although there is the potential for bias in the data (parents’ reports in telephone surveys may not be accurate), the methods are very good and the results are quite informative. Here’s one item that stuck out for me. The figure shows by state the percentage of children who have, sometime during their lives, been diagnosed with ADHD (longer light-colored bars) and those who are currently taking medication for ADHD. (The small image at the right is linked to the full-sized figure in the CDC report.)

Why does the percentage vary so much? This is the same question that people have asked about other categories of disability (e.g., Learning Disabilities). The report offers a note about this question: “Certain state variation in ADHD diagnosis might be attributed to underlying state differences in diagnostic practice, sociodemographic characteristics, or both.” When I get a chance, I’ll run a couple of correlations.

Link to the Web site on ADHD of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

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