TODAY   |  April 02, 2013

ADHD cases rise 53 percent in a decade

Eleven percent of kids across the country have been diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and approximately two thirds of those children take medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman explains reasons for the numbers skyrocketing and addresses whether ADHD is being overdiagnosed.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now, 7:42 with the skyrocketing number of children being diagnosed with adhd, "the new york times" reports there hases about been a 53% increase in the past decade, 11% of kids have been diagnosed with the disorder and two-thirds are being treated with medications like ritalin and aderol. dr. nancy snyderman .

>> good morning to you.

>> to you is there any medical explanation for this explosive of a rise in these diagnoses or is it clear to you we are overdiagnosing this condition?

>> i can't explain in one generation why you'd see a leap this big. i think we were underdiagnosing before and it's easy to overdiagnose now. if you have a child with a.d.d. or adhd it requires not just how is billy doing but a rigorous battery of tests. doctors, schools and parents get lazy when they have to go through the process.

>> a lot people look at the numbers and think parents, educators or doctors frustrated with typical childhood behavior may be too quick to reach the diagnosis.

>> i'm one of the parents, i've been down this road and know what this is like. i have to defend the pharmaceutical industry . lot of people say it's big pharma pushing drugs. it's parents who don't know what to do and doctors say try this and a school system that hasn't changed in over 150 years and we have rambunctious boys, and we don't have recess, we don't have experiential learning , we have sit down in your chair, look at the blackboard and do things by rote like we always have and we have changing brains. technology has rewired things. i think that's part of it.

>> you say it's hard to explain this generational shift. on the other hand is this truly a condition of its time? these are children raised with iphones, with video games that move so fast. is this an attention span that a generation where the attention span is smaller?

>> look at you and me. that blackberry is being tweeted by you every 15 seconds when you're on that desk and that's a technological shift and so if you as an adult feel really connected to this and you didn't even grow up with it, imagine what it is like when you're a 2-year-old and get your first ipad, you bet their brains are going faster and they bore more easily, and so one of those old books, the teacher just died and the geranium in the window sill and you kept on talking. these allow kids to concentrate and do well. when they're in doses that are too high they can cause psychosis and death, this is parents, teacher's frankly students having to look at this in a different way.

>> if parents are aware they should be asking doctors for a rigorous screening.

>> this is not a how is billy doing, this is really testing at school and observational testing it can be done right.

>> nancy thank you so much.