CDC uses datasets from parent surveys and healthcare claims to understand diagnosis and treatment patterns for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). On this page you can review information from different studies.

How many children have ADHD?

The percent of children estimated to have ADHD has changed over time and its measurement can vary. The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013) that 5% of children have ADHD1. However, other studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples.

In 2016:

  • The estimated number of children and adolescents ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to parent report, was consistent with previous estimates from the National Survey of Children’s Health.

NSCH 2003-2011: National Survey of Children’s Health, telephone survey data; estimate includes children 4-17 years of age

Redesigned NSCH 2016: Now an online and mail survey external icon, estimate includes children 2-17 years of age

*Note: Because the 2016 NSCH survey used different methods, estimates are not directly comparable with estimates based on previous NSCH data. Because of an increased focus on ADHD in younger children, age ranges were expanded to include children 2-17 years of age.

In 2016:

  • Approximately 9.4% of children 2-17 years of age (6.1 million) had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to parent report in 2016.
    • Ages 2-5: Approximately 388,000 children
    • Ages 6-11: Approximately 2.4 million children
    • Ages 12-17: Approximately 3.3 million children

Parent report on ADHD diagnosis in previous years:

  • The percent of children 4-17 years of age ever diagnosed with ADHD had previously increased, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011-12.
  • The number of young children (ages 2-5) who had ADHD at the time of the survey increased by more than 50% from the 2007-2008 survey to the 2011-12 survey.

How many children with ADHD have another disorder?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often occurs with other disorders and conditions.

Parent report:

In 2016, among U.S. children ages 2-17 years:

  • Nearly 2 of 3 children with current ADHD had at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder.
  • About 1 out of 2 children with ADHD had a behavior or conduct problem.
  • About 1 out of 3 children with ADHD had anxiety.
  • Other conditions affecting children with ADHD: depression, autism spectrum disorder, and Tourette Syndrome.
Percentage of children with ADHD and another disorder
Percentage of children with ADHD and another disorder

Note: Data from the redesigned National Survey of Children’s Healthexternal icon. Parents reported on other conditions that the child currently had at the time of the survey (2016).

How many children are receiving treatment for ADHD?

Treatment for ADHD can include behavior therapy and medication. For children 6 years of age and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends both behavior therapy and medication as good options, preferably both together. For young children (under 6 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy is recommended as the first line of treatment, before medication is tried.

There are no comprehensive data on ADHD treatment from a single source. CDC uses parent report and healthcare claims data to understand treatment patterns. Estimates for treatment patterns can differ based on the type of data source.

Parent report:

In 2016:

  • The percent of all children 2-17 years of age in the U.S. taking ADHD medication was 5.2%.
  • Among children with ADHD, 62% were taking ADHD medication.
    • Ages 2-5: 18%
    • Ages 6-11:  69%
    • Ages 12-17: 62%
  • The percent of children 2-17 years of age with ADHD who received behavioral treatment was 47%.
    • Ages 2-5: 60%
    • Ages 6-11:  51%
    • Ages 12-17: 42%
  • Among children 2-17 years of age with current ADHD, about 77% were receiving treatment. Of these children:
    • About 30% were treated with medication alone.
    • About 15% received behavioral treatment alone.
    • About 32% children with ADHD received both medication treatment and behavioral treatment,
    • About 23% children with ADHD were receiving neither medication treatment nor behavioral treatment.

More Information on Treatment and Services for Children with ADHD Ages 4-17 (2014)

  • Among children with ADHD, parents reported that just under 9 out of 10 children received school support at some point in their lives, which includes school accommodations and help in the classroom.
  • Among children with ADHD, 6 out of 10 children received some type of psychosocial treatment at some point in their lives:
    • 3 out of 10 received parent-delivered behavior therapy.
    • 4 out of 10 received social skills training.
    • 3 out of 10 received peer interventions.
    • 2 out of 10 received cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Among children with ADHD, parents also reported on alternative treatments:
    • About 1 out of 10 children received neurofeedback.
    • About 2 out of 10 children had taken dietary supplements.

Healthcare claims data:

In addition to parent report, healthcare claims data from Medicaid or employer-sponsored insurance provide another way to understand treatment patterns:

  • About 3 in 4 children ages 2-5 years with ADHD recorded in their health care claims from 2008-2014 received ADHD medication, and fewer than half received any form of psychological services.
  • During 2008–2011, children ages 2–5 years covered by Medicaid were twice as likely to receive clinical care for ADHD compared with similar-aged children covered by commercial employer sponsored insurance.

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