Minority Children Diagnosed With ADHD Less Frequently Than White Peers

Aimee Simone, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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African-American and Hispanic children were 69% and 50% less likely than white children to be diagnosed with ADHD, respectively, according to the results of a new study.

Minority children are less likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than white children, according to the results of a study published online on June 24, 2013, in Pediatrics.
 
The researchers analyzed the results of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998 to 1999, and identified children who had not been diagnosed with ADHD before kindergarten. They then followed 15,100 of these children through eighth grade, collecting information on ADHD diagnoses through parent questionnaires that were sent out multiple times during the study period.
 
The results indicated that African-American children were 69% less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than were white children. Hispanics and those of other races or ethnicities were, respectively, 50% and 46% less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than were white children. Among children who were diagnosed with ADHD, minorities were also less likely to be taking prescription medication to treat the condition.
 
The researchers identified several factors that may increase or decrease the chance of ADHD diagnosis. Boys, children raised by an older mother, and children from English-speaking households were most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Children who displayed academic achievement and those who were not covered by health insurance were least likely to be diagnosed.
 
Although the study results are consistent with previous research, the researchers are unsure whether minority children are being under-diagnosed with ADHD or white children are being over-diagnosed. They note that white parents may be more likely to solicit a diagnosis from clinicians, while minority parents may be less aware of the condition.
 
The authors add that more research is needed to determine the cultural forces causing the large differences in ADHD diagnosis among ethnicities. In the meantime, clinicians should be aware of these differences to ensure that all children, despite race or ethnicity, are properly diagnosed and treated for the condition, the authors write.

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