ADHD

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Use of ADHD Drugs Increasing Fastest Among Young Women

Women ages 19 to 25 have higher rates of ADHD medication use than girls ages 12 to 18. (Getty Images)

Women ages 19 to 25 have higher rates of ADHD medication use than girls ages 12 to 18. (Getty Images)

By Nancy Shute, NPR

Use of ADHD drugs continues to rise in the United States, but the group whose use is increasing the most may come as a surprise: young women.

An analysis of prescriptions filled from 2008 to 2012 through Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit management company, found that use of ADHD medications rose 35.5 percent overall. The company’s database includes 15 million people with private insurance.

Children and young adults on ADHD medications by gender. (Express Scripts)

Children and young adults on ADHD medications by gender. (Express Scripts)

The medications, largely stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, are still most commonly prescribed to boys ages 12 to 18. In 2012 7.8 percent of boys ages 4 to 18 were taking an ADHD medication — that’s more than twice the rate of girls (3.5 percent). But in young adulthood, ages 19 to 25, men’s use plummets, while young women’s rate increases. From ages 26 to 64, use of ADHD medications by women exceeds that of men.

To find out more about what’s going on, we talked with Dr. David Muzina, a psychiatrist who is the vice president and national practice leader for neuroscience at Express Scripts. This is an edited version of our conversation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have reported increases in use of ADHD medications in children, but this increase in adults seems huge. What’s happening there? Continue reading

Are Minority Kids Being Missed In ADHD Diagnosis?

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

For years, doctors, teachers and parents have fretted that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is overdiagnosed and that children are overprescribed the stimulants that treat the brain disorder too often.

But, as EdSource Today reports, that’s not the case in California. According to new data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, California ranks 5th lowest in the country in diagnosis. The national average of children with ADHD is 7.9 percent, but in California, the rate is 5.2 percent.

That 5.2 percent rate may be a low one nationally. But globally, rates vary between 3 and 9 percent, “with the average closer to 5,” Prof. Joshua Israel told EdSource Today.

Still, within ethnic groups in California, the diagnosis rates drop dramatically. Kaiser researchers published data earlier this year which showed white children had a 5.6 percent rate — well in line with global averages. But other groups had much lower ADHD diagnosis rates as follows:

  • Black children: 4.1 percent
  • Latino children:  2.5 percent
  • Asian American children: 1.9 percent Continue reading