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Rate of children diagnosed with ADHD jumps

More and more U.S. children are being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a new study suggests.

Exactly why these rates are climbing isn't clear. But increased awareness of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is likely a contributing factor, the study authors said.

According to the new findings, the rate of children who were diagnosed with ADHD jumped by about 24 percent between 2001 and 2010. This increase was most pronounced with white children, and there was a 90 percent increase in ADHD diagnosis among black girls during the same time frame.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 4 percent and 12 percent of school-aged children have ADHD. Symptoms include difficulty focusing, impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity. Treatments for ADHD include medication and behavioral modifications.

For the study, researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group mined the electronic health records of nearly 850,000 children aged 5 to 11 years between 2001 and 2010. Of these children, slightly less than 5 percent had an ADHD diagnosis. White and black children were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander children.

Specifically 5.6 percent of white children in the study had an ADHD diagnosis in 2010, compared with 4.1 percent of blacks, 2.5 percent of Hispanics and 1.2 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders. Boys were three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, the study found.

The findings are published online Jan. 21 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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