Objective: The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence and incidence of new diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and assess drug treatment of ADHD in the 3-17 year age group in Germany.
Method: We analysed data from the German Pharmacoepidemiological Research Database (GePaRD) for the years 2004-2006. The GePaRD includes claim records of 14,000,000 members of four statutory health insurances, representing 17% of the German population. The assessment of ADHD diagnoses was based on International Classification of Diseases version 10 (ICD-10) codes in outpatient and hospital data.
Results: In 2005, the age-standardized prevalence and incidence of new diagnoses were 2.5% and 9/1000 person-years, respectively. Both measures were 3-4 times higher for males than for females. Incidence of new ADHD diagnoses increased linearly up to the age of 8 years for boys and 9 years for girls and decreased abruptly thereafter. In the calendar quarter of the initial ADHD diagnosis, 9.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.9-9.8%) received methylphenidate or atomoxetine and 36.8% (95% CI 36.1-37.6%) received at least one prescription of either drug within the first year. Initiation of drug treatment and choice of drug were similar for both sexes.
Conclusions: ADHD is a common condition among children and youth in Germany. There are substantial differences by sex in the prevalence and incidence of new ADHD diagnoses, but only a small difference in drug treatment among those diagnosed with ADHD. A relatively low percentage of children receives drug treatment in the first year after the initial diagnosis of ADHD.