As of 2016 more than 6 million children in the U.S. had ADHD (CDC), and that number has likely only increased over the past five years.
ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common neurological disorder that causes children (and adults) to be easily distracted, have difficulty paying attention or lose focus, or act impulsively. It is typically diagnosed in children through a series of behavioral observations.
A new study recently published in the JAMA Network Open revealed that there may be racial disparity in the frequency of ADHD diagnoses and treatment in kids. Of the more than 238,000 white, Black, Asian, and Hispanic children evaluated in the study, white children were far more likely to receive a diagnosis (and then follow-up treatment) for the condition even if their symptoms were similar.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin treats children and teenagers with ADHD quite frequently, and our board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Dilip Karnik recently commented on this inequality for an article in Verywell Family.
“Unlike an ear infection or strep throat which needs a quick evaluation that can be done by PCP and can be cured by a short course of antibiotics, conditions like ADHD are chronic and need extensive evaluation by experts,” says Dr. Karnik. “Sometimes evaluations are not covered by health insurance, which means many families are unable to pay for these services.”
Research suggests that the greatest difference between white families and others in obtaining an ADHD diagnosis for their child is often economics. White families traditionally have higher incomes and therefore better resources and access to doctors and healthcare services.
Additionally, Blacks, Latinos and those of other ethnicities are often stereotypically mischaracterized as lazy or defiant in their behavior, and so a possible ADHD diagnosis may often go overlooked.
If left untreated, ADHD can lead to a series of lifelong problems including:
- Difficulty managing emotions and handling relationships
- Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem
- Challenges with efficiency, organization and time management
- Risky behavior and substance abuse
- Inability to hold a job
The bottom line Dr. Karnik says, “more services should be made available for children from disadvantaged families.”
Child Neurology Consultants believe that all children, no matter race or ethnicity, deserve quality healthcare and that those with access to proven and effective ADHD care and treatment (whether ADHD medications or behavioral therapies) can lead highly successful, happy and productive lives.
The complete article in Verywell Family featuring Dr. Karnik is available here.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating ADHD and a wide range of neurological disorders in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old. For an appointment with one of our specialists, or to learn more about our services, please contact us here.