3 to 5 percent, or about 2 million, of American teens suffer from ADHD or ADD. 7 percent of parents will have a teen with ADD or ADHD. According to the National Mental Health Association it is the most common childhood mental disorder, and remains among the most common in the teenage years. In an average class in school, at least one teen is likely to have ADD or ADHD.
Up to 50 percent of teens with ADHD or ADD may never be diagnosed, especially among those without health insurance. There is some concern among researchers that ADHD and ADD are over-diagnosed among those with health insurance, and under-diagnosed among those without.
There has been a recent increase in diagnosis of teen ADHD and ADD, probably due to more understanding of the condition and broader definitions of the disorder, according to Duke University Medical Center.
ADHD is most common in childhood, with about 30 to 60 percent of patients continuing to be affected into adulthood. About 80 percent of children who need medication for ADHD still need it as teenagers, and about 50 percent need it as adults.
Teen ADD and ADHD are 2 to 3 times more common among boys than girls. Non-hispanic white teens are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD (8 percent) than Hispanic (4 percent) or African-American (5 percent) teens. 14 percent of white teens living below the poverty level have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
Among teens who suffer from ADHD or ADD, 30 to 40 percent have another close relative who also has ADD or ADHD, suggesting a genetic component of ADHD and ADD.
Teen ADD and ADHD are usually accompanied by at least one other behavioral or developmental problem, and a higher risk of juvenile delinquency. About half of teens who have learning disabilities also have ADD or ADHD, and nearly half of those with ADD or ADHD also have a learning disability.15 to 20 percent have specific learning disability, which affects a teen's ability to understand or use language effectively. 20 to 40 percent of teens with ADHD or ADD also develop conduct disorder, which often leads the teen to steal, lie, bully, disrespect the rights of others, or act aggressively toward people and animals. Because teens with conduct disorder frequently break the law, and are at higher risk for substance abuse, it is very important to get them help and help stop juvenile crime.
In their first few years of driving, teens with ADHD or ADD are four times more likely to get into automobile accidents, are three times more likely to get speeding tickets, and are more likely to be in accidents that cause bodily injury. Because 18 percent of deaths due to speed-related accidents are teenagers, these are important numbers to consider for parents when deciding rules for ADHD or ADD teens who want to drive. Stimulants are an effective treatment for 70 to 80 percent of ADHD and ADD sufferers, and nonstimulants (Strattera) are effective for about 70 percent. Diet restrictions - such as avoiding sugar or food additives - help about 5 percent of ADHD or ADD teens, often those who suffer from food allergies.
Teen ADD / ADHD Statistics Sources: National Institute for Mental Health [online] National Mental Health Association [online] WebMD/The Cleveland Clinic [online] U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" [online] About.com, ADD and ADHD Statistics: Your Guide to Parenting of Adolescents, "CDC Report Looks at Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" [online] Duke University Medical Center [online] US Environmental Protection Agency, "America's Children and the Environment" [online]