Data Shows Lower ADHD Rates Among Latino Children

Latino children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) about half as often than white or African American children, data analysis by federal researchers has found. From The Boston Globe:

Statistics released this year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that roughly 3.9 percent of Latino children over the past decade were reported by their parents to have been diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 7.8 percent among white children and 6.3 percent among black children. Another major federal study, analyzing the most current data, from 2007, found a typical American child has a 9.5 percent chance of ever being diagnosed with ADHD, but the rate for Latino children was 5.6 percent.

The reason for the discrepancy is a subject for debate among researchers, clinicians, and educators. Some say that a cultural stigma around mental health issues, or cultural tolerance of some of ADHD's hallmark symptoms, such as high activity level, mean fewer diagnoses for Latino families. Also, as the Globe reports:

Jane Delgado, president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, said she believes a lack of awareness of ADHD largely explains the low diagnosis rates among Latino children. She added, however, that some Latino families have a wait-and-see attitude with troubled children and rely heavily on family interventions. She said that newly arrived Hispanic immigrants, despite higher poverty rates, often display signs of strong mental health, largely due to stronger family, community, and religious ties.

Nonetheless, she said, cultural stigma against mental conditions persists, and she is pushing for more awareness of ADHD in the Latino community. She said diagnosis is often not easy, requiring a range of input from family, teachers, and clinicians.

"It's not like diagnosing a broken leg,'' Delgado said.

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