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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or hyperkinetic disorder (HKD), affects people of all ages, and ADHD prevalence rates are known to vary between children, adolescents and adults.1-4

A mean worldwide prevalence of ADHD of ~2.2% overall (range: 0.1–8.1%) has been estimated in children and adolescents (aged <18 years). The mean prevalence of ADHD in adults (aged 18–44 years) from a range of countries in Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East was reported as ~2.8% overall (range: 0.6–7.3%).4

Persistence of ADHD from childhood to adulthood


Prevalence factors

ADHD prevalence rates may vary depending on several factors:

  • Age – ADHD can affect people of all ages, and ADHD prevalence rates are known to vary between children, adolescents and adults.1-4
  • Gender – a higher prevalence of ADHD is often reported in males compared with females.5,6
  • Presentation of ADHD – symptoms of ADHD can vary between patients in terms of severity and the combination of inattention, hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. ADHD, its symptoms and its impact may also vary throughout a patient’s lifespan.7-10
  • The majority of adults with ADHD have diagnosed or undiagnosed psychiatric comorbidities, which can complicate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.11-13

Differences in prevalence rates of ADHD may also vary due to population characteristics; methodological, environmental and cultural differences; and variability in the diagnostic criteria employed in studies.14

  1. Wichstrøm L, Berg-Nielsen TS, Angold A, et al. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in preschoolers. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2012; 53: 695-705.
  2. Schlack R, Hölling H, Kurth BM, et al. The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children and adolescents in Germany. Initial results from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2007; 50: 827-835.
  3. Canals J, Morales-Hidakgo P, Jane M, et al. Prevalence in Spanish preschoolers: comorbidity, socio-demographic factors, and functional consequences. J Atten Disord 2016; 22: 143-153.
  4. Fayyad J, Sampson NA, Hwang I, et al. The descriptive epidemiology of DSM-IV Adult ADHD in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. Atten Defic Hyperact Disord 2017; 9: 47-65.
  5. Nøvik TS, Hervas A, Ralston SJ, et al. Influence of gender on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in Europe–ADORE. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2006; 15(Suppl 1): I15-I24.
  6. Willcutt EG. The prevalence of DSM-IV attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analytic review. Neurotherapeutics 2012; 9: 490-499.
  7. Caci H, Asherson P, Donfrancesco R, et al. Daily life impairments associated with childhood/adolescent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as recalled by adults: results from the European Lifetime Impairment Survey. CNS Spectr 2015; 20: 112-121.
  8. Caci H, Doepfner M, Asherson P, et al. Daily life impairments associated with self-reported childhood/adolescent attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and experiences of diagnosis and treatment: results from the European Lifetime Impairment Survey. Eur Psychiatry 2014; 29: 316-323.
  9. Holmberg K, Bölte S. Do symptoms of ADHD at ages 7 and 10 predict academic outcome at age 16 in the general population? J Atten Disord 2014; 18: 635-645.
  10. Biederman J, Faraone SV, Spencer TJ, et al. Functional impairments in adults with self-reports of diagnosed ADHD: a controlled study of 1001 adults in the community. J Clin Psychiatry 2006; 67: 524-540.
  11. Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance (CADDRA). Canadian ADHD Practice Guidelines. Fourth Edition. Toronto, ON; CADDRA, 2018.
  12. Kooij JJS, Bijlenga D, Salerno L, et al. Updated European Consensus Statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD. Eur Psychiatry 2019; 56: 14-34.
  13. NICE guideline 2018. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng87. Accessed December 2018.
  14. Skounti M, Philalithis A, Galanakis E. Variations in prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder worldwide. Eur J Pediatr 2007; 166: 117-123.
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