The rise was most pronounced in minority groups, suggesting that better access to health insurance and mental-health treatment through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have played some role in the increase. The rate of diagnosis doubled in girls, although it was still much lower than in boys.
But the researchers say they found no evidence confirming frequent complaints that the condition is overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
The United States has significantly more instances of ADHD than other developed countries, which researchers said has led some to think Americans are overdiagnosing children. Wei Bao, the lead author of the study, said in an interview that a review of studies around the world doesn’t support that.
“I don’t think overdiagnosis is the main issue,” he said.
Nonetheless, those doubts persist. Stephen Hinshaw, who co-authored a 2014 book called “The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance,” compared ADHD to depression. He said in an interview that neither condition has unequivocal biological markers, which makes it hard to determine whether a person has the condition. Symptoms of ADHD can include inattention, fidgety behavior and impulsivity.
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