Highest ADHD Rate In New England? Rhode Island.

Nov 25, 2013

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is highlighting new data (published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) about reported ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) rates among kids aged 4 - 17.

Here's the snapshot in Rhode Island: In 2003, the percentage of kids ever diagnosed in Rhode Island was 9.8. In 2011, it went up to 13.4. This is a parent-reported diagnosis by a health care provider. And it puts Rhode Island's rate above the national average for the past decade, and highest in New England.

Interestingly, in 2007, Rhode Island ranked 8th highest in the nation for the percentage of kids diagnosed with ADHD who were taking medication for it. By 2011, we were 28th, according to the CDC.

What's going on?

In terms of diagnoses, it could be that there are more cases of ADHD. It could be that doctors are more aware of it and diagnosing it more often.

As for the medication rates, Rhode Island's numbers haven't changed too much in the past decade. But why might we have some of the nation's lower rates? Researchers think it could be thanks to a number of reasons - severity of the ADHD, health insurance status, concerns about medication risks, and demographics all play a role.

The number of kids with solid ADHD diagnoses has a host of implications for health care and education in Rhode Island, but most importantly, ADHD can be tough on kids and parents. If you're concerned, here are some resources about proper diagnosis (the guidelines were updated in May this year). And here are the latest treatment recommendations.