Meds for behavior problems on the rise?

May 1, 2014

About 1 in every 13 US children aged between 6 and 17 years has used a prescription medication for behavioral or emotional problems within the previous 6 months, according to government survey data.

 

About 1 in every 13 US children aged between 6 and 17 years has used a prescription medication for behavioral or emotional problems within the previous 6 months, according to government survey data.

Information gleaned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Health Interview Survey 2011-2012 found that use of drugs for emotional/behavioral difficulties varied by sex, age, race, poverty status, and health insurance coverage, but that overall 7.5% of children aged 6 to 17 years used a prescription medication within the previous 6 months for problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The rate of use was almost double for boys (9.7%) what it was for girls (5.2%) and was highest among non-Hispanic whites (9.2%), followed by non-Hispanic blacks (7.4%) and Hispanic children (4.5%). Rate of use was also higher for older children (aged 12 to 17 years) versus younger children (aged 6 to 11 years) for both boys and girls.

Although more than half (55.1%) the parents of the children prescribed a drug in the previous 6 months reported that the drug helped “a lot,” nearly 1 in 5 (18.9%) reported that it helped “not at all.” Twenty-six percent reported the drug helped “some.”

The survey also revealed that use was highest among children insured by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (9.9%), followed by those insured by TRICARE or other government insurance (7.9%), those with private insurance (6.7%), and those without insurance (2.7%).

According to the CDC, about 11% of children aged 4 to 17 years were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, up from 7.8% in 2003 and 9.5% in 2007. 


 

 

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