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Number of kids with ADHD rising; how many are misdiagnosed?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The number of children — and adults — being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise in North America.

Kate Lunau with Maclean’s Magazine says more than one in ten kids in the US have been told they have the disorder, and more than 3.5 million are taking drugs for it.

She tells us people often think of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as affecting middle class boys, but the rates among girls, adults, and minorities are rising.

The trends are much the same in Canada.

“You know, ADHD is a real condition,” says Lunau. “It is chronic, it can last a lifetime, and it can be very serious. But I think increasingly, there’s a lot of concern that at least some of these kids are being misdiagnosed.”

She adds diagnosing ADHD is subjective.

“You’re looking for symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness among a kid; I think anyone who’s spent time with kids will recognize that every child is, to some extent, rather impulsive and disorganized, and can have trouble following directions.”

Lunau notes the rush to diagnose can lead to other conditions, like sleep problems, being misdiagnosed as ADHD.

She says while drugs can help people who do have the disorder, they can also cause side effects like raising blood pressure and affecting growth.