Children aged 4–17 years with a primary diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made an estimated 6.1 million physician office visits during 2012-13 according to data published by the US National Center for Health Statistics.
The visit rate was similar across the age range but was more than twice as high for boys (147 per 1,000 boys) as for girls (62 per 1,000 girls).
Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants were mentioned (i.e., provided, prescribed, or continued) at 80 per cent of ADHD visits by children aged 4–12 years and 81 per cent of ADHD visits by children aged 13–17 years.
A total of 29 per cent of ADHD visits by children and adolescents aged 4–17 had an additional mental health disorder as a second- or third-listed International Classification of Diseases (ICD) diagnosis. These included episodic mood disorder (7 per cent); anxiety, dissociative, and somatoform disorder (7 per cent); and disturbance of emotions specific to childhood and adolescence (4 per cent).
At the majority of ADHD visits a paediatrician (48 per cent) or psychiatrist (36 per cent) provided the care. Only in 12 per cent of visits was the child seen by a general or family medicine physician.
The NCHS published the Data Brief because the prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis among US children and adolescents has increased in recent years. In addition, stimulant medications are commonly used to treat patients with ADHD, and public health monitoring of this practice has been recommended.