What You Need to Know About ADHD

The Blueprint — March 28, 2019

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) recently released its latest Health of America report, “The Impact of ADHD on the Health of America’s Children.” The report reviewed medical claims of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses and treatment among children 2-18 years old from 2010-2017. Children with ADHD struggle with paying attention, controlling impulses and being overly active.

The report highlights a rising trend in ADHD diagnoses among children across the U.S., suggesting a need to continue to focus on diagnosis, community initiatives and treatment for a growing number of children. Here are four key takeaways from the report:

ADHD is the second most impactful condition on children’s health in the U.S.

The behavioral disorder accounts for 16 percent of the impact health conditions have on Generation Z, as measured by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index. A condition’s impact is the amount it reduces health for a population accounting for both prevalence and severity. ADHD and was found to be most common among middle school children (aged 11-13), with boys diagnosed about twice as much as girls.

ADHD diagnoses are climbing

Nearly 2.4 million insured American children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2017, an increase of 31 percent since 2010. In Kansas City, 6.6 percent of children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2017 – nearly tripling since the study began.

It’s often accompanied by other disorders

About 40 percent of children with ADHD also have at least one other behavioral health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. The likelihood of these disorders greatly increases when children reach middle school.

Treatment for ADHD varies widely

The report found that treatment patterns vary widely and are gradually changing. Providers are encouraging combination therapy and medication treatment, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Still, nearly half of all children with ADHD were treated with medication only in 2017.

By conducting medical research, BCBSA and its member companies are improving the quality of health care solutions for the communities in which they serve. To learn more about ADHD diagnoses, read the full Health of America report.