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Study warns of ADHD link to adult psychiatric disorders

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 11, 2013

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Health professionals should consider attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as a chronic health condition with lifelong implications for adult patients, rather than as a disorder that primarily affects childhood behavior and learning, according to a study published online March 4 in Pediatrics.

Researchers concluded that 29% of adults who were diagnosed with ADHD during childhood still had the condition at age 27. Adults who were told they had ADHD as children were more likely to have at least one other psychiatric disorder, such as alcohol dependence or abuse (57%), compared with adults who were not diagnosed with ADHD during youth (35%).

Mortality due to suicide was nearly five times higher among adults diagnosed with ADHD during childhood than in adults who did not have the condition as youths, the study said (link).

Researchers examined data on 5,718 adults who were born between 1976 and 1982 in Rochester, Minn., and continued to live there until at least age 5. After excluding adults with severe intellectual disabilities or those who denied access to their medical records, researchers were left with a study population of 567 people. They compared health information on 232 adults who were diagnosed with ADHD during childhood with 335 control group members who were not diagnosed with the behavioral disorder.

The study authors said physicians and other medical professionals need to be prepared to provide appropriate ADHD care throughout a patient’s life span.

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