What is the prevalence of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among different age groups?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

In DSM-IV, the age of onset criteria was "some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years."  This reflected the view that ADHD emerged relatively early in development and interfered with a child's functioning at a relatively young age. In DSM-5 this has been revised to "several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to 12 years."  Thus, symptoms can now appear up to 5 years later.  And, there is no longer the requirement that the symptoms create impairment by age 12, just that they are present. After childhood, symptoms may persist into adolescence and adulthood, or they may ameliorate or disappear.

The percentages in each group are not well established, but at least an estimated 15–20% of children with ADHD maintain the full diagnosis into adulthood. As many as 65% of these children will have ADHD or some residual symptoms of ADHD as adults.

The prevalence rate in adults has been estimated at 2–7%. The prevalence rate of ADHD in the adult general population is 4–5%. [18]


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