OBJECTIVE: This article presents the 12-month prevalence estimates of specific mental disorders, their social and demographic correlates, and service use patterns in children and adolescents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative probability sample of noninstitutionalized US civilians.

METHODS: The sample includes 3042 participants 8 to 15 years of age from cross-sectional surveys conducted from 2001 to 2004. Data on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for mental disorders were derived from administration of selected modules of the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, version IV, a structured diagnostic interview administered by lay interviewers to assess psychiatric diagnoses of children and adolescents.

RESULTS: Twelve-month prevalence rates of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition–defined disorders in this sample were 8.6% for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 3.7% for mood disorders, 2.1% for conduct disorder, 0.7% for panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, and 0.1% for eating disorders. Boys had 2.1 times greater prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder than girls, girls had twofold higher rates of mood disorders than boys, and there were no gender differences in the rates of anxiety disorders or conduct disorder. Only approximately one half of those with one of the disorders assessed had sought treatment with a mental health professional.

CONCLUSION: These data constitute a first step in building a national database on mental health in children and adolescents.

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