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CDC Survey Raises Concern About Over Diagnosis of ADHD

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Wally Lederer, left, speaks with CBS4's Kathy Walsh. (credit: CBS)

Wally Lederer, left, speaks with CBS4’s Kathy Walsh. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – New data from the Centers for Disease Control shows 11 percent of school age children in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and two-thirds of them are taking stimulants.

That has some doctors worried the diagnosed is being over-used and consequently too many children are taking medicines.

Wally Lederer is the child advocate at the Kunsberg School and he knows students who have the diagnosis. But he told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh he was shocked to learn how many children had the diagnosis and were receiving drugs like Ritalin and Adderall.

“There are a lot who probably shouldn’t have the diagnosis who are getting it,” he said.

Dr. Bruce Bender is a pediatric neuropsychologist at National Jewish Health and he called the data troublesome.

“It is troublesome because we don’t kids on medications who don’t need to be on medications,” Dr. Bender said.

That survey from the CDC shows the diagnosis of ADHD has risen 53 percent in the past decade, leading some to question if parents and physicians are too quick to label children.

“Certainly pediatricians will tell you they feel pressure from some parents to prescribe a medication for ADHD,” said Bender.

Lederer agrees. “I think we’re looking sometimes for an easy way out and there’s not an easy way out.”

Some say those medications for ADHD can lead to addiction and anxiety.

There’s also a trend of some young people using those prescriptions as study aids to improve performance on tests.

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