Are Missouri Children Over-Diagnosed With ADHD? | St. Louis Public Radio

Are Missouri Children Over-Diagnosed With ADHD?

Mar 26, 2013

Medication is often a routine treatment for children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

A recently released report by the Centers for Disease Control shows nearly 9 percent of Missouri’s children are diagnosed with ADHD and that about 80 percent of them receive prescription medication for the behavioral disorder, a rate second only to Mississippi.

“I think it’s a case of the good, bad, and the ugly. As far as Missouri’s ranking second in terms of the proportion of children with ADHD being treated with medication, that is in and of itself not a terrible thing. If a diagnosis of ADHD is made, children should receive the appropriate treatment,” Dr. John Constantino said.

Constantino is the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and Director of the William Greenleaf Elliot Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Over-Diagnosis and Treatment

“The issue of over-diagnosis is another matter,” Constantino said.  “It is a tremendous issue because often times the diagnosis is made without the proper rule-outs of other conditions which may look like ADHD. This results in a high proportion of children who are believed to be affected,” Dr. Constantino said.

“The ugly part of this is that science has not yet established which proportion of children who are on this continuum of impairment of attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity problems – which proportion of them should really be treated.”

More Numbers (CDC Report)

  • 4.1 million (7.2%) U.S. school-aged children have a current diagnosis of ADHD
  • 8.6% of Missouri school-aged children have a current diagnosis of ADHD
  • 78.3% of Missouri school-aged children diagnosed with ADHD are being medicated for ADHD

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