NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The costs of treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in US children is similar to the price tag for fighting childhood asthma--and far higher than national average healthcare costs for kids, researchers report.
They say their findings indicate that ADHD and asthma "deserve similar emphasis" as public health concerns.
Dr. Eugenia Chan of Children's Hospital Boston, in Massachusetts, led the study. The findings are published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Chan's team used data from a 1996 national survey to estimate the annual healthcare costs of children and teens with ADHD, those with asthma and those in the general population with neither condition.
They found that on average, the cost of healthcare for a child with ADHD was $479 higher than for kids in the general population. The findings were similar for children with asthma, whose healthcare costs were $437 higher than average.
The bulk of the cost for treating ADHD was in doctor visits, prescription drugs and out-of-pocket expenses, according to the report.
"The potential economic burden of ADHD is enormous," Chan and her colleagues write.
Based on the survey's estimate of the prevalence of childhood ADHD (3.5%), the researchers put the yearly healthcare cost of the disorder at $1 billion.
They call for more research into which specific therapies, when used in the "real world," work best over the long-term for children with ADHD.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2002;156:504-511.