LOUISVILLE - Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a high rate of children in Kentucky have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The Courier-Journal reports the agency's figures show 19 percent of children between ages 4 and 17 had been diagnosed with the condition compared to 11 percent nationally. The figures are the latest available and are based on parent reports in a 2011 national survey.
Medical professionals aren't sure why Kentucky's rates are so high. Theories include high-risk factors, over-diagnosis and a greater awareness of the disorder.
The number of children being diagnosed with the condition is increasing. According to the CDC data, 8 percent of children nationally had been diagnosed in 2003 compared to 10 percent in Kentucky.
"We're probably over-diagnosing it to a certain extent," said Dr. Christopher Peters, a psychiatrist and assistant professor in the University of Louisville's pediatrics department. "But these numbers indicate a problem. There are many kids in need."
Scientists have linked ADHD to alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, though they say it's unclear whether smoking actually contributes to the condition. In addition, ADHD is identified more frequently in the poor and say genetics can also play a factor.
Some parents with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD say treatment has helped.
Amanda Slaymaker said her daughter, Cherrish hoped her daughter's behavior was just a phase, but a medical evaluation found that she had ADHD.