General Prevalence of ADHD
A meta-analysis of 175 research studies worldwide on ADHD prevalence in children aged 18 and under found an overall pooled estimate of 7.2% (Thomas et al. 2015). The US Census Bureau estimates 1,795,734,009 people were aged 5-19 worldwide in 2013. Thus, 7.2% of this total population is 129 million—a rough estimate of the number of children worldwide who have ADHD.
Based on DSM-IV screening of 11,422 adults for ADHD in 10 countries in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, the estimates of worldwide adult ADHD prevalence averaged 3.4% (Fayyad et al. 2007)
Children & Adolescents
Bitsko et al analyzed ADHD prevalence from data collected by parent-reported 2016-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). Since the sampling frame and data collection methods have been modified as of 2016, the estimates from the previous surveys and the redesigned surveys cannot be compared to each other.
Of children aged 3-17,
- Approximately 6 million children (9.8 percent) ever been diagnosed with ADHD
- Ages 3-5: 2.2 percent in this age group
- Ages 6-11: 10.0 percent
- Ages 12-17: 13.2 percent
- By race/ethnicity ever been diagnosed with ADHD:
- 7.5 percent Hispanic
- 12.0 percent Black, non-Hispanic
- 10.9 percent White, non-Hispanic
- 2.6 percent Asian, non-Hispanic
- By geographic classification ever been diagnosed with ADHD:
- 9.5 percent urban/suburban
- 12.0 percent rural
- Approximately 5.3 million children (8.7 percent) have a current diagnosis of ADHD:
- Ages 3-5: 2.0 percent
- Ages 6-11: 9.3 percent
- Ages 12-17: 11.5 percent
- By race/ethnicity have a current diagnosis of ADHD:
- 6.6 percent Hispanic
- 10.5 percent Black, non-Hispanic
- 9.9 percent White, non-Hispanic
- 2.2 percent Asian, non-Hispanic
- By geographic classification have a current diagnosis of ADHD:
- 8.4 percent urban/suburban
- 10.7 percent rural
The 2017-2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is another parent-reported survey Bitsko et al evaluated to determine ADHD diagnosis prevalence. Past surveys looked at aged 4-17; 2017-2018 looks at children aged 3-17.
|Prevalence Overall and by age (percent)|
|Overall||Ages 3-5||Ages 6-11||Ages 12-17|
|Ever had ADHD||9.6||1.8||9.7||13.4|
|Prevalence by sex (percent)|
|Ever had ADHD||12.9||6.2|
|Prevalence by race/ethnicity (percent)|
|Hispanic||Black, non-Hispanic||White, non-Hispanic||Asian, non-Hispanic|
|Ever had ADHD||7.0||11.4||10.9||2.1|
|Prevalence by Geographic Classification (percent)|
|Ever had ADHD||9.3||12.0|
Based on results of the US Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the national prevalence of current ADHD for children aged 9-10 years old using strict criteria that met or exceeded the clinical scale of ADHD according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) (Cordova et al, 2022):
ADHD prevalence: 3.53 percent
- Sex, male: 67.10 percent
- White, non-Hispanic: 61.36 percent
- Black: 18.40 percent
- Asian: 0.62 percent
- Native American/Alaskan Native: 0.98 percent
- Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander : 0.01 percent
- Multiracial: 16.18 percent
- Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latinx: 18.86 percent
- Prescribed ADHD medication: 44.65 percent
Prevalence rate of comorbid (coexisting) psychiatric disorders, adjusted prevalence rate of coexisting psychiatric disorders (probability of displaying comorbidity with ADHD diagnosis)
- ADHD with any disruptive behavior disorder (“includes oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder”) (Cordova et al, 2022): 30.9 percent
- ADHD with any mood disorder (“includes major depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, and unspecified depressive disorder”): 2.1 percent
- ADHD with any anxiety disorder (“includes agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, unspecified anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, and social anxiety”): 27.4 percent
According to analysis of data collected by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the prevalence rates of diagnosed ADHD among children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 in the past twenty years are as follows (Xu et al, 2018):
Overall prevalence and by age group (percent)
|Year||Overall||Ages 4-11||Ages 12-17|
Prevalence by gender (percent)
Prevalence by race/ethnicity (percent)
|Year||Hispanic||Non-Hispanic white||Non-Hispanic black||Other|
The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) interviewed parents and reports the following ADHD prevalence data among children ages 2–17 (Danielson et al. 2018):
- 6.1 million children (9.4 percent) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. This includes:
- About 388,000 young children ages 2-5 (or 2.4 percent in this age group)
- 2.4 million school-age children ages 6-11 (or 9.6 percent in this age group)
- 3.3 million adolescents ages 12-17 (or 13.6 percent in this age group)
- 5.4 million children (8.4 percent) have a current diagnosis of ADHD. This includes:
- About 335,000 young children ages 2-5 (or 2.1 percent in this age group)
- 2.2 million school-age children ages 6-11 (or 8.9 percent in this age group)
- 2.9 million adolescents ages 12-17 (or 11.9 percent in this age group)
- Treatment used by children ages 2-7 with a current diagnosis of ADHD:
- Two out three were taking medication (62 percent).
- Less than half received behavioral treatment in the past year (46.7 percent).
- Nearly one out of three received a combination of medication and behavioral treatment in the past year (31.7 percent).
- Nearly one out of four had not received any treatment (23 percent).
- Severity of ADHD among children ages 2-17:
- 14.5 percent had severe ADHD
- 43.7 percent had moderate ADHD
- 41.8 percent had mild ADHD
- Co-occuring conditions (children ages 2-17):
- Two out of three children (63.8 percent) had at least one co-occuring condition.
- Half of all children (51.5 percent) had behavioral or conduct problems.
- One out of three children (32.7 percent) had anxiety problems.
- One out of six children (16.8 perccent) had depression.
- About one out of seven children (13.7 percent) had autism spectrum disorder.
- About one out of 80 children (1.2 percent) had Tourette syndrome.
- One in a hundred adolescents (1 percent) had a substance abuse disorder.
- By race or ethnicity (children ages 2-17):
- 8.4 percent White
- 10.7 percent Black
- 6.6 percent Other
- 6.0 percent Hispanic/Latino
- 9.1 percent Non-Hispanic/Latino
Analysis of parent-reported data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 2011–2013 found the following (Pastor et al. 2015):
- 9.5% of children ages 4–17 years were ever diagnosed with ADHD
- By age groups:
- 2.7% of children ages 4–5
- 9.5% of children ages 6–11
- 11.8% of children ages 12–17
- By gender:
- 13.3% of boys
- 5.6% of girls
- By race/ethnicity:
- 11.5% non-Hispanic white children
- 8.9% non-Hispanic black children
- 6.3% Hispanic children
The same study found the rate of ADHD diagnosis increased from 7.0% in 1997–1999 to 10.2% in 2012–2014. During this period, prevalence increased among non-Hispanic white children from 8.5% to 12.5%, among non-Hispanic black children from 5.5% to 9.6%, and among Hispanic children from 3.8% to 6.4%.
The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) 2003–2011—based on parent interviews—highlights the following data for children aged 4–17 (US CDC 2014):
- 5.1 million children (8.8% or 1 in 11 of this age group 4–17 years) have a current diagnosis of ADHD:
- 6.8% of children ages 4–10 (1 in 15)
- 11.4% of children ages 11–14 (1 in 9)
- 10.2% of children ages 15–17 (1 in 10)
- The average age of current ADHD diagnosis was 6.2 years, including:
- "Mild" ADHD diagnosed at 7 years,
- "Moderate" ADHD diagnosed at 6.1 years, and
- "Severe" ADHD diagnosed at 4.4 years.
- 3.5 million children (69% of children with current ADHD) were taking medication for ADHD.
- Boys (12.1%) continue to be more than twice as likely than girls (5.5%) to have current ADHD.
- Current ADHD prevalence rates vary between states, with Nevada having the lowest rate at 4.2% and Kentucky having the highest rate of 14.8%.
- According to the parent reports, 6.4 million children (11% of this age group 4–17 years) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, and rates of ever-diagnosed ADHD increased an average of approximately 5% per year from 2003 to 2011.
- ADHD – Where Children Live Might Make a Difference for Diagnosis and Treatment
- State-based Prevalence Data of Parent Reported ADHD Diagnosis by a Health Care Provider, 2016-2019
- State Profiles of Parent Reported ADHD Medication Treatment
Children in Elementary School
According to a recent population-based study using DSM-IV criteria, 15.5% of school children enrolled in Grades 1 to 5 have ADHD. The study combined the results of rating scales filled out by teachers and telephone interviews of parents for 7,847 children (Rowland et al. 2015).
According to a screen for ADHD in 3,199 adults aged 18–44 from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), 4.4% of US adults have ADHD. Of these adults with ADHD, 38% are women and 62% are men (Kessler et al. 2006).
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 studies that included over 9,400 adult attendees in psychiatric outpatient clinics shows high rates of adult ADHD. The pooled prevalence of ADHD was about 15% in the five studies using a two-stage design and about 27% in the nine screening studies. The study was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders (Adamis et al. 2022).
Adamis, Dimitrios et al. (April 2022). ADHD in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prevalence Studies in Outpatient Psychiatric Clinics. Journal of Attention Disorders.
Bitsko, Rebecca H. et al. (February 2022). Mental Health Surveillance Among Children — United States, 2013–2019. MMWR Suppl, 71(Suppl-2):1–42.
Cordova, Michaela M. et al. (October 2022). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Restricted Phenotypes Prevalence, Comorbidity, and Polygenic Risk Sensitivity in the ABCD Baseline Cohort. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 61(10): 1273–84.
Danielson, Melissa et al. (January 2018). Prevalence of Parent-Reported ADHD Diagnosis and Associated Treatment Among U.S. Children and Adolescents, 2016. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.
Fayyad J. et al. (May 2007). Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(5):402–409.
Kessler, Ronald C. et al. (April 2006). The Prevalence and Correlates of Adult ADHD in the United States: Results From the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, American Journal of Psychiatry 163(5):71.
Pastor, Patricia N. (August 28, 2015). QuickStats: Percentage of Children and Adolescents Aged 5–17 Years with Diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), by Race and Hispanic Ethnicity — National Health Interview Survey, United States, 1997–2014,Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 64(33):925–925.
Pastor, Patricia N. et al. (2015). Association between diagnosed ADHD and selected characteristics among children aged 4–17 years: United States, 2011–2013.NCHS data brief, no 201. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
Rowland, Andrew et al. (September 2015). The Prevalence of ADHD in a Population-Based Sample. Journal of Attention Disorders v19(9):741–754.
Thomas, Rae et al. (April 2015). Prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 135(4), pp. e994–e1001.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Key Findings: Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosis and Medication Treatment for ADHD: United States, 2003–2011.
US. Census Bureau, Population Division. World Midyear Population by Age and Sex for 2013
Xu, Guifeng et al. (August 2018). Twenty-Year Trends in Diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among US Children and Adolescents, 1997-2016. JAMA Network Open. 2018;1(4):e181471.