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Attention deficit leads US kids' mental health problems, CDC reports
CDC's most comprehensive look yet at mental health shows ADHD affects close to 7 percent of US kids.
By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer, NBC News May 16, 2013
The most comprehensive report on specific mental disorders in children shows attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed problem in kids aged 3-17, with close to 7 percent of kids having a diagnosis.
Another 3.5 percent have behavioral problems, 3 percent have anxiety and 1.1 percent have autism. For teenagers, addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco are the most common issues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.
These percentages translate into millions of children, said CDC’s Ruth Perou, who put the study together. She found that 6.8 percent of U.S. children have ADHD. “That’s about 4.18 million children,” Perou told NBC News.
“This first report of its kind documents that millions of children are living with depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and other mental health conditions,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement.
“No parent, grandparent, teacher or friend wants to see a child struggle with these issues. It concerns us all. We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders and help scale up programs and strategies to prevent mental illness so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”
It adds up to a lot of kids. “It is estimated that 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year and an estimated $247 billion is spent each year on childhood mental disorders,” the report reads.
The report takes data from many other surveys. The estimates on autism spectrum disorder might not be quite up to date. In March, CDC published a survey showing 2 percent of U.S. schoolkids – or about a million children – have been diagnosed with some sort of autism.
Thursday’s report was finished before that latest data came out, Perou said.
Behavioral disorders affect 2.1 million children, Perou says. “We are not looking at whether kids misbehave or are having a bad day,” she said. “What we are talking about is a child incapable of behaving well or playing well with others.”
Children with a diagnosed behavioral disorder, such as oppositional defiance disorder, have constant conflicts with authority that affect their ability to attend school. “They are having such challenges in how they are dealing with emotions or behavior that it impairs their ability to lead their day-to-day lives,” Perou said.
The survey confirms a lot of what experts already knew: autism, conduct disorders and ADHD are more common among boys; depression is more common among girls. More children were diagnosed as they got older.
The data on adolescents aged 12 to 17 shows a million teenagers are drug or alcohol abusers, and more than 695,000 are addicted to tobacco. This doesn’t mean casual use or experimentation, but serious addiction, Perou said. “You are looking at something that is debilitating and really impairs their ability to function day to day,” she said.
The good news is that there are treatments for all the disorders, Perou said, and CDC is working to help come up with more approaches that work. “We can make a difference in their lives,” she said.
CDC has information for teachers and parents on spotting mental illness in kids.
The definitions for all the disorders come from the DSM-IV, the guide used by mental health professionals to diagnose and classify disease. A new version, the DSM-V, comes out Friday, and many of the changes have been widely leaked.
Thursday’s report will set a baseline, so that changes in classifying mental health issues that come from changes in the DSM-V can be tracked, Perou said.
Dr. Huntoon's Perspective
Appreciate that this is a serious issue. Children are starving for attention and it is because of what has happened to society. Parents both have to work and many children are left unsupervised and literally lack the attention they need to grow up in a balanced way. Since many mothers need to work to help make ends meet in the family, or because it is a single parent home, the children do not have the ability to spend time in a relaxed fashion sharing their day. Combine that with the decrease in quality nutrition from all the Completely Refined And Processed foods (CRAP foods) they are eating entirely too much of, their body and their brain are not getting the necessary ingredients to maintain normal function. And that is why it is important to change the way society does our nutrition. If we continue to over process our food, add more and more artificial ingredients (additives and coloring) and use more and more pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers, we can expect there to be a shortage of quality food that supports our health. And in the end we all suffer.
Now, if the industry is making $ 247 billion to treat these attention deficit issues, why would the industry change? They make $ 247 billion dollars. It is entirely too profitable to change what we are doing if it will affect the bottom line of the industry. And the $247 billion will increase in the next 10 years to $500 billion (half a trillion) simply because noone is addressing the source of the problem. And it will continue on to significantly higher figures unless each individual takes responsibility for his or her self or the parents look for a different way. That means getting educated on what can be done to assist an individual in restoring proper nutrition, proper brain chenistry and proper brain function. This will take effort and require dedicating some time to create change.
What sort of change needs to take place?
We can easily create many new businesses where people can begin preparing foods for their community that is truly healthy and not full of all the CRAP that currently is in our foods. And this has to be done small first. It begins with one person choosing to make a change. And initially you will get a lot of resistance. Self resistance and resistance from those around you. And, if you want to make it out alive, pushing through the resistance is necessary. It is necessary for yourself and for your children. And if you need help getting started, I have resources for you to use to begin the change. Simply ask and I will provide you with what you need. And it starts with you.
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