Even though the percentage of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is likely the same as in the past, there are three likely reasons why it seems that "there is more ADHD" than ever before:
First, we become more aware of problems like this as parents than we were as a children. We have grown up now and we are more concerned about these issues since we have our own children.
Second, the news and entertainment media have talked about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder a lot more than in the past, raising our awareness levels.
Third, a recent study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that 5.5% of women REPORTED using illicit drugs while they were pregnant; 18.8% REPORTED using alcohol, and 20.4% REPORTED using tobacco while pregnant. Children who were Drug Exposed in utero, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome children, have many of the same problems as children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and are often misdiagnosed by physicians as being ADHD.
In our rural area of California it is estimated that 10% of all children born in our county were exposed to drugs or alcohol by their mothers during pregnancy.
There are no known "safe levels" of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use while pregnant. The use of drugs or alcohol are especially dangerous to the developing baby and can often cause neurological problems. When these children enter school, they often display problems with attention, impulse control, temper, learning, and behavior. They are often misdiagnosed as having a genetically based Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
However, rather than having a genetically based Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) what they really suffer from are structural head injuries thanks to their mother's past behaviors. ADHD is not a "fad" disorder, nor is it a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to get more kids on drugs. It is a very real neurological condition that is common enough as to require parents, teachers, and physicians to become better educated about its causes, the available treatment options, and the potential problems with doing nothing. Learn more about ADHD at the ADHD Information Library.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.