More hyperactive boys than girls

One in twenty Dutch children aged 2 to 12 years showed signs of hyperactivity in the period In 2003-2005. Hyperactive behaviour was more common among boys than among girls, and in low income groups than in high income groups.

Boys nearly twice as likely to be hyperactive

In 2003-2005, 6.6 percent of boys aged 2 to 12 years suffered from a hyperactivity disorder. These boys cannot sit still, are constantly fidgeting or twisting and can only concentrate on an activity for a short time. Fewer girls suffered from these disorders: only 3.6 percent of girls aged 2 to 12.

More hyperactivity in low income groups

There is a strong correlation between the prevalence of hyperactivity in children and income of the parent(s). The lower the disposable household income, the larger the percentage of children with a hyperactivity disorder. In the lowest income group, 5.9 percent of children suffered from a hyperactivity disorder. In the highest income group this was only 2.7 percent.

Hyperactivity by income and family composition, 2002–2004

Hyperactivity by income and family composition,2002–2004

More hyperactive children in one-parent families

Children who live in a one-parent family were slightly more likely to suffer from a hyperactive disorder than children living with two parents. However, one-parent families are also more likely to have a lower income on average than two-parent families. If this is corrected for, the difference in the prevalence of hyperactive children between one and two-parent families is eliminated.

Pressure on the family

A child with a hyperactive disorder places a heavy burden on its parents and family. One quarter of parents of a hyperactive child report, for example, that they had been (very) worried about the emotional well-being of their child in the preceding four weeks. For parents with no hyperactive children this is five times lower. Just over one in five parents with hyperactive children also report that ordinary family activities like mealtimes and watching TV  are often or very often disrupted by the child’s behaviour. These disruptions, too, are five times less likely to occur in families with no hyperactive children.

Pressure on family and parent(s), 2002–2004

Pressure on family and parent(s), 2002–2004

Ferdy Otten