2018 ADHD Fact Card

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that we have only recently begun to understand more deeply from a genetic, clinical and neuroscientific perspective.

Here are some of the latest facts about ADHD reported by the CDC and other organizations.

Diagnosis Patterns

  • Percent of American children with ADHD:  11%
  • Age when symptoms typically appear: 3-6
  • Average age of diagnosis:  7
  • Increase in diagnosis over the past 8 years:  42%
  • Adults with ADHD:  4%

Age and Gender Patterns

  • Males are 3x more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD
  • Over their lifetimes, 13% of men will diagnosed; 4.2% of women will be diagnosed

Other Demographic Patterns

  • Children living in households where English is the main language are more than 4x as likely to be diagnosed as children living in households where English is the second language
  • Children living in households that make less than 2x the federal poverty level have a higher risk than children from higher-income households
  • ADHD rates vary among children with different ethnicity::
    • White:  9.8%
    • Black  9.5%
    • Latino:  5.5%

Geographic Patterns

States with the highest and lowest rates of ADHD:


  • Kentucky: 14.8%
  • Arkansas: 14.6%
  • Louisiana: 13.3%
  • Indiana: 13.0%
  • Delaware and South Carolina: 11.7%


  • Nevada: 4.2%
  • New Jersey: 5.5%
  • Colorado: 5.6%
  • Utah: 5.8%
  • California: 5.9%

Treatment Patterns

Among children 2-17 years of age with current ADHD, about 77% were receiving treatment. Of these children:

  • About 30% were treated with medication alone
  • About 15% received behavioral treatment alone
  • About 32% children with ADHD received both medication treatment and behavioral treatment
  • About 23% children with ADHD were receiving neither medication treatment nor behavioral treatment


An earlier study suggested that the “cost of illness” for a person with ADHD is $14,576 each year. That means ADHD costs Americans $42.5 billion dollars each year—and that is considered to be on the conservative side of estimates. This is because of healthcare cost inflation and also the fact that medicines and other treatments aren’t the only costs to consider when dealing with an ADHD diagnosis. Other factors may include:

  • education expenses
  • loss of work
  • juvenile justice expenses
  • other healthcare costs related to having ADHD


The landscape of ADHD diagnosis and treatment continues to shift as our understanding of the condition improves. For example, our knowledge now that ADHD can present differently in girls vs. boys may portend a rise in diagnoses among girls. However, as these facts show, ADHD is a serious medical condition that merits more investment in research and treatment.

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