Survey Estimates 4.4 Million Kids Diagnosed ADHD
(Beyond Pesticides, October 5, 2005) A recent report released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 4.4 million kids, or 7.8% of school-aged children, have been diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The report is considered the most recent national and state-specific estimates of the prevalence of the disorder. Previously, population-based estimates of medication treatment for ADHD were not available or were limited. The data is drawn from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) that surveyed parents or guardians of 102,353 sample children.
ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by pervasive inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity and resulting in significant functional impairment, according to the CDC. Health-care costs associated with ADHD are conservatively estimated at $3.3 billion annually.
Of the estimated 4.4 million youths diagnosed with the disorder, 2.5 million (56%) take medications for the disorder. Diagnosis among males was reported significantly more often in families with incomes below the poverty threshold (<100%) than in families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold.
Scientific studies link exposure to certain common organophosphate pesticides, such as carbaryl – a pesticide found on the shelves of retail stores as well as in agriculture - to adverse cognitive and behavioral effects in mice and other subjects. (See Do Pesticides Affect Learning and Behavior? The neuro-endocrine-immune connection, by Dr. Warren Porter.)
One study demonstrates a clear genetic link between neurological disorders such as ADHD and exposure to organophosphate pesticides. (See Study Finds Pesticides Cause Genetic Effect Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder and Gulf War Syndrome.)
Considerable uncertainty still exists around the myriad affects of pesticides on kids, although it is known that children are far more vulnerable to pesticides than adults. Beyond Pesticides' Healthy Schools Project aims to minimize and eliminate the use of pesticides around children through the adoption of safe pest management strategies - in schools and at home. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides Children and Schools and Lawns and Landscapes programs.