March 1 (UPI) -- Black, Hispanic and Asian children with ADHD are significantly less likely to be accurately diagnosed and treated for the disorder compared to their White peers, a study published Monday by JAMA Network Open found.
Among more than 230,000 children included in the analysis, 5% had ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a neurodevelopmental condition that can lead to learning and behavior problems, with most diagnosed around age 12.
However, Asian children with the condition were 52% less likely to be accurately diagnosed with it, compared to White children.
Hispanic children were 22% less likely than White children to receive an accurate diagnosis, while Black American children were 17% less likely.
"Racial and ethnic disparities exist in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children," study co-author Dr. Yu Shi told UPI.
"Non-White [children] and Asian Americans in particular are less likely to be diagnosed, and less likely to receive clinical treatment after diagnosis," said Shi, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
More than 6 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the CDC.
However, it is possible that many children with the condition are misdiagnosed with other mental health disorders and thus are not receiving the treatment they need, Shi said.
For this study, he and his colleagues reviewed commercial health insurance claims data on 238,011 children born in the United States between 2006 and 2012.
About 73% of the children were White, while 10% were Hispanic, 7% were Asian and 6% were Black.
Among preschool children diagnosed with ADHD, 19% underwent behavioral therapy only, 32% were treated with prescription medications and 19% received both, the data showed.
However, nearly 30% had no health insurance claims associated with either treatment option, the researchers said.
Among school-aged children with the disorder, 66% were prescribed medications, while 14% underwent behavior therapy and 20 received no treatment at all, according to the researchers.
Asian children were 46% less likely to receive treatment for ADHD compared to their White peers, the data showed.
"Our analysis showed that children from different racial groups had different pattern of other psychiatric diagnoses before their ADHD diagnosis," Shi said.
"[This] may suggest children form different racial groups were brought to clinical evaluation for different reasons: such as behavioral concerns versus learning problems," he said.