Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in 4- to 17-year-old children in the general population

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Dec;27(6):455-62. doi: 10.1023/a:1021932009936.


The purposes of this study were (a) to estimate the prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) symptoms in the general preschool and school population; and (b) to analyze the influence of gender, age, and socioeconomic status (SES) variables on AD/HD symptoms. Out of the 80,000 preschool and schoolchildren living in Manizales, Colombia, a random sample of 540 children was selected. Two gender, three age (4- to 5-year olds, 6- to 11-year olds, and 12- to 17-year olds), and three SES (low, middle, and high) groups were used. The 18 DSM-IV symptoms corresponding to AD/HD Criterion A were assessed on a scale of 0 (never) to 3 (almost always). All three demographic variables established statistically significant differences: AD/HD symptoms were more frequent in 6- to 11-year-old, low-SES, male participants. DSM-IV Criterion A for AD/HD was fulfilled by 19.8% of the boys and 12.3% of the girls. However, this difference was marginally significant only in the AD/HD Subtype I: Combined. It was concluded that demographic variables are significant correlates of the AD/HD diagnosis. The prevalence found in this study was higher than usually reported, even though only the symptomatic DSM-IV AD/HD criterion was analyzed. We failed to confirm the assumed AD/HD gender ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class