Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is often characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and distracted behavior. Its prevalence has increased in recent years, from under 8 percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2011.
A new study published in Pediatrics indicates that black and Hispanic children who show symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are less likely to be diagnosed or treated when compared to white children. The study followed more than 4,000 children in fifth, seventh, and tenth grades who are located in public school districts around the country.
The results of the study showed that 19 percent of the white children were diagnosed with ADHD by tenth grade, compared to only 10 percent of black children and 4 percent of Hispanic children.
The study’s author, Dr. Tumaini Coker of the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles, stated that there are many areas where diagnosis and treatment for African American and Latino children are falling short.
However, it is unclear what is causing the disparities. For example, minority parents may be less likely to seek treatment for ADHD symptoms due to cultural beliefs or lack of access to health insurance, or the differences can be found in the health care industry itself. Another possibility is that ADHD is overdiagnosed in white children, leading to a bigger gap between groups. Further research is needed to determine the differences in how ADHD is diagnosed and treated among different groups of patients.Additionally, pediatricians need to learn how to ask more thorough questions to all patients about school, grades, and behavior problems.