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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2012 Aug;22(4):307-14. doi: 10.1089/cap.2011.0064. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Age-specific prevalence, incidence of new diagnoses, and drug treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in Germany.

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  • 1Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine, Bremen, Germany.



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.


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.


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.


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.

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