If a child is diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), will he or she eventually outgrow it or continue with the condition into adulthood?
A new study shows that nearly 30% will continue to struggle with ADHD, and may develop other mental health issues.
"We suffer from the misconception that ADHD is just an annoying childhood disorder thats over treated," researcher William Barbaresi, MD, of Boston Childrens Hospital, says in a prepared statement. "This couldnt be further from the truth. We need to have a chronic-disease approach to ADHD as we do for diabetes. The system of care has to be designed for the long haul."
The study included 5,700 adults. Two groups were created: one group had been diagnosed during childhood with ADHD, and the other group grew up without ADHD.
Out of 367 participants who had childhood ADHD, 232 were followed into adulthood. At age 27, nearly 30% had adult ADHD.
Researchers also found that nearly 57% of the adults with childhood ADHD had at least one other mental health issue. 35% of the adults without childhood ADHD also had one or more mental health issues.
Substance abuse or dependence (26%), antisocial personality disorder (17%), other substance abuse/dependence (16%), hypomanic episodes (15%), anxiety disorder (14%) and major depression (13%) were the most common mental health issues experienced by adults diagnosed with childhood ADHD.
The researchers noted that death from suicide was nearly five times higher in this group.
Among all 367 adults with childhood ADHD, seven (1.9%) had died, three of them from suicide. Of 4,946 people without ADHD, only 37 (0.7%) had died, five by suicide.
Ten people whod had childhood ADHD (2.7%) were in jail at the time of recruitment for the study.
This study "speaks to the need to greatly improve the long-term treatment of children with ADHD and provide a mechanism for treating them as adults," r