In 2001, about 2.5 percent of youth medical records analyzed for a California study were found to have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. By 2010, that same analysis found the rate had increased to 3.1 percent.
That's an overall jump in youth ADHD diagnoses of 24 percent in 10 years. Whites had the highest overall rates; in 2001, 4.7 percent of white children were diagnosed with the disorder compared with 5.6 percent in 2010.
But minorities saw the highest rate percentage rise. The rate, according to JAMA Pediatrics, which published the study, rose by 70 percent in black children and by 60 percent in Hispanics.
"That is a very significant increase," said Darios Getahun, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group, which conducted the study, according to a USA Today report.
The study focused on health records for 840,000 children.
Also of interest: Boys were three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, the study found.
"We know that girls are more likely to show signs of inattention as opposed to hyperactivity, and therefore, the disorder often goes unnoticed and untreated," said Craig Garfield, a pediatrician with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, in USA Today.
Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD. It's a stimulant approved for use in patients age 6 and older.
According to the online magazine Additude, "exactly how [it] works is still not understood." One rare side effect with long-term use is "mood or mental changes," the magazine reported.
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