NHIS survey shows ADHD diagnoses up

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NHIS survey shows ADHD diagnoses up

The number of people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Korea is gradually increasing with male teenagers accounting for the majority of patients, according to a report released by the National Health Insurance Service on Sunday.

The ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders that usually appears in childhood and can continue into adulthood. Symptoms usually include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, as well as difficulty controlling behavior.

According to a report from the health care agency, which analyzed data from 2009 to 2013, the number of ADHD patients increased from 51,000 in 2009 to 58,000 in 2013, averaging an annual growth of 2.9 percent.

Money spent on treatment for ADHD also increased, growing 10.6 percent per year in the same period, the report said.

By gender, there were more than 46,500 male ADHD patients as of 2013, which is more than quadruple the number of females.

By age, those who are between 10 and 19 accounted for 98 percent of total patients as of 2013.

In total, male teenagers accounted for 52.6 percent of total patients, which were reported to number more than 30,000 in the country.

Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although some suggest genetics, brain injuries, nutritional deficiencies and social environment might be contributing factors.

In particular, studies have suggested a possible connection between the disorder and the use of cigarettes or alcohol during pregnancy, as well as exposure to environmental contaminates and artificial dyes. However, it is still unknown why there are more male ADHD patients than females.

Experts said that ADHD is usually contained to childhood, but without proper treatment, can continue on into adulthood. Doctors stress that caring for ADHD patients in their youth is important, as they often have trouble making friends and retaining confidence.

BY JUNG JONG-HOON, JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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