ADHD ABC|G is for Geography…Why Do More North American Kids Have ADHD?

World_upside_down.jpg ‎(800 × 400 pixels, file size: 50 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)Geography of ADHD

I have this theory that ADHD could be higher in countries with giant groups of immigrants (like the United States, Canada, and Australia) than in the rest of the world. Our  hyper, dreamy ancestors left the Old Country to chase the American dream. Most Europeans don’t move around that much– a lot of my German friends have stayed in the same town or village for generations.

ADHD Stats in the USA

  • In the USA, about 11% of children aged 4-17  were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
  • ADHD diagnosis rates vary from a nadir of 5.6% in Nevada to a whopping 18.7% in Kentucky.  Why would that be? (Some say that it varies because of high stakes testing. In some states, the scores of children with ADHD are not counted. Or do a bunch of ADHDers really reside in the South? Does eating grits cause ADHD? Or?! ).
  • Latino children are less likely to have parent-reported ADHD.

 ADHD Stats Internationally

  • Certain countries, such as Italy, Sweden, and Iceland may have a lower prevalence of ADHD symptoms.
  • In France, the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis is much lower. A mere 0.5% of children have a diagnosis of ADHD and are on medication for it.
  • In Brazil, doctors prescribe physical exercise over a pill for ADHD.

Dr. Polanczyk et al. reported some fascinating facts about ADHD worldwide in PsychiatryOnline:

  • The pooled prevalence of ADHD worldwide is 5.29%.
  • The reported rates of ADHD for Africa and the Middle East are significantly lower than North America.

I could be wrong, wrong, wrong with this theory…it’s something I wonder about though, when driving around. I mean, what about our ancestors who came here under duress, because they were forced, like escaping war refugees or Africans who were chained in the holds of the evil slave ships? Or do kids present ADHD-like symptoms more in North America because recess, PE, and the arts have been slashed in so many school districts?

Why does North America tend to have a higher rate of ADHD? What’s your theory?

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Nancy Carroll Written by:

One Comment

  1. Mark
    September 29, 2015

    Excellent post. I’m dealing with some of these issues
    as well..

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