Most Children With ADHD Are Not Receiving Medications

Only 26.2% of children with parent-reported ADHD have ever received outpatient mental health care.

HealthDay News Most children with parent-reported attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not receiving medications and have never received outpatient mental health care, according to a study published online April 28 in JAMA Network Open.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., from Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and colleagues describe current ADHD medication use and lifetime outpatient mental health care in a sample of children with ADHD. Data were included from the first wave of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study (11,723 participants); 1,206 participants had parent-reported ADHD (aged 9 to 10 years).

Of the 1,206 children with ADHD, 12.9% were currently receiving ADHD medications. Researchers found that receipt of ADHD medications was increased for boys vs girls (15.7 vs 7.0%), Whites vs Blacks (14.8 vs 9.4%), children of parents without a high school education vs those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (32.2 vs 11.5%), and children with the combined vs the inattentive subtype of ADHD (17.0 vs 9.5%). Outpatient mental health care had ever been received by about 26.2% of children with parent-reported ADHD. The proportion of children receiving outpatient mental health care was higher for those whose parents had a high school education or some college vs a bachelor’s degree or higher (36.2 and 31.0%, respectively, vs 21.3%), children with family incomes <$25,000 or $25,000 to $49,999 vs ≥$75,000 (36.5 and 27.7%, respectively, vs 20.1%), and for children with the combined vs the predominantly inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive subtype of ADHD (33.6 vs 20.0%, respectively, and 22.4%).

“These patterns suggest that attitudinal rather than socioeconomic factors often impede the flow of children with ADHD into treatment,” the authors write.

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