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ADHD Diagnoses Spike

Updated: Tuesday, January 22 2013, 06:28 PM EST

The number of kids being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADHD, has spiked. That's according to a new study out this week that looked at thousands of school-age children.

"I thought he was doing good in school, green lights mean he was good for the day, and most of the time he was getting them," said Mary Swanson of her 6-year-old son Blake.

But then one day a note came home from Blake's Rutherford County teacher, saying she should consider getting him checked by a doctor.

The symptoms suggested Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder: not being able to sit still in class not getting along with other students and trying to raise his hand before he knew the answer, and sometimes before the teacher asked the question.

Swanson says she was worried, until she realized how common the disorder was.

"There's more students in his class that have it than not," she said.

New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that Blake's classroom may be a reflection of the country.

The number of children diagnosed the ADHD has risen 24 percent in the last decade, according to the study done by insurer Kaiser Permanente.

"I think we've been seeing the trend for a long time," said Nurse Practitioner Janet Hughes with Rutherford Pediatrics.

Researchers who performed the study estimate that between four and 12 percent of all school-aged children had ADHD.

With the spike that that the study shows, there are concerns that the disorder is being overdiagnosed and that especially energetic kids may be being medicated. But Hughes says the process of diagnosing a child is thorough and often involves interviewing the parents, speaking with teacher and monitoring a childs progress.

"Most of the time it's a pretty straightforward diagnosis," says Hughes who estimates that her practice diagnoses two to three children with the disorder every month.

Hughes says there was a stigma against the psychiatric disorder in the past that kept number deceivingly low.

"I think there just wasn't the awareness out there," said Hughes. "I think a lot of parents were scared to put their children on medicine."

For a link to the study click here.

Follow Ashlea Surles on Twitter @AshleaSurles

ADHD Diagnoses Spike

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