New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest nearly one in every five high school-aged American boys have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The study also reports that 11 percent of school-age children have received a medical diagnosis of ADHD. That marks a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade.
Yet, the new data has some doctors wondering if the numbers reflect over-diagnosis. Although there is no definitive test and diagnosis is only determined by speaking extensively with patients, the figures show an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives.
About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with ADHD but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis. These numbers could jump even more in the coming years as the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of ADHD to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment.
There is also growing concern that children may be selling their medication to classmates or misusing the pills themselves; however, many kids are also being given pills without going through a full diagnosis procedure because of parental pressure and time constraints doctors face.
"There's a tremendous push where, if the kid's behavior is thought to be 'abnormal' -- if they're not sitting quietly at their desk, that's pathological, instead of just childhood," said Dr. Jerome Groopman, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
FOX 9 News spoke with Dr. Joel Oberstar, chief medical officer at PrairieCare Medical Group, about the study and its potential effects.
Watch the video for more information.