Louisiana leads the nation in ADHD diagnoses among children

Updated: Aug. 19, 2019 at 7:06 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Health officials say Louisiana has the nations highest rate of ADHD diagnoses among children.

ADHD also known as Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder limits a person’s ability to focus, hold attention or control impulsive behavior.

The report shows that Louisiana has the highest ADHD diagnosis rate in the nation among children ages 2-11 at 11 percent. The report, which covers 2010 to 2017, shows Louisiana also had the highest variation from the national average at 4.6 percent, and the top two metropolitan areas (MSAs) for diagnosis rate, with Baton Rouge at 11.6 and New Orleans at 10.5 diagnoses per 100 members, respectively.

“In honesty, I see it more often than I like to see it,” said local pediatrician, Anatole Karpovs.

So what sets Louisiana apart from the rest of the country?

According to Karpovs, “The factors in Louisiana that might make that more available is that we do have higher rates of unhealthy children and so if you have unhealthy bodies then often times their mind can be unhealthy.”

In addition to unhealthy lifestyles, Dr. Karpovs, said misdiagnosis shouldn’t be overlooked, due to the complexities of the disorder.

“ADHD is a difficult thing to diagnose and so sometimes it is categorized as ADHD when it is actually something else and that’s because everyone is so different that their symptoms can behave in a different way,” said Karpovs.

ADHD can be apparent in the classroom.

“We evaluate over 1,000 kids a year just for disabilities,” said Mike Hill, Administrative Coordinator of pupil appraisal for the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

Hill said in terms of how they teach students with disorder - alternative or specialized lesson plans can be beneficial for students with and without ADHD.

“ADHD has been on the rise for a long time and schools have had to respond to that," said Hill. "A lot of the tools that we initially use to respond to specific students we find our applicable to most students.”

Those tools include teaching apps and resources for the modern-day student and parent.

When it comes to decreasing the state’s high statistic, Dr. Karpovs points to thorough and routine evaluations.

“So we can get that feedback to find out, ‘well wait a second maybe this is something else’...so we have to re-evaluate.”

Karpovs said depending on the child, ADHD can look very different and can sometimes be misconstrued with sleep deprivation.

Study results indicated there may be a focus on Southern states, with the following highlights:

  • Louisiana has the highest diagnosis rate at 11%, the highest variation from national average at 4.6 and the top two MSAs for diagnosis rates, with Baton Rouge at 11.6 and New Orleans at 10.5.
  • Louisiana also has the highest medication-only treatment rate of 61.7%.
  • Georgia at 8.3 per 100 members and South Carolina at 8.2 also have high diagnosis rates, as well as high medication-only treatment rates, with South Carolina at 61.5% and Georgia at 60%.

Additional national findings from the study are:

  • Diagnosis rates are higher in the South and lower in the West, with a nearly three-fold difference between the rates of the highest and lowest states.
  • All states saw an increase in diagnosis rates of ADHD in children from 2010 to 2017 except North Dakota, which decreased 9% from 6.3 to 5.7.
  • ADHD is most prevalent among middle school-aged children (11-13 years old), and boys are diagnosed about twice as often as girls.
  • ADHD accounts for 16% of the impact all health conditions have on Generation Z (0-19 years old).

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