Nationwide population studies: atomoxetine not associated with birth defects

Nationwide population studies: atomoxetine not associated with birth defects

Treatment for ADHD among women of reproductive age is increasingly common. That means we need to know whether ADHD medications have any tendency to increase the risk of birth defects.

Treatment for ADHD among women of reproductive age is increasingly common. 

That means we need to know whether ADHD medications have any tendency to increase the risk of birth defects. Previous studies have looked mostly at ADHD medications that are central nervous system stimulants, especially methylphenidate and amphetamines.

Atomoxetine is the most widely prescribed non-stimulant for treating ADHD. It acts indirectly, by selectively inhibiting the removal of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that mobilizes the brain and body for action. 

To explore whether atomoxetine might be associated with any higher risk of birth defects, an international study team examined nationwide population data from four Nordic countries with universal single-payer health insurance systems – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland – along with nationwide data from the U.S. Medicaid system, which is likewise single-payer, and covers roughly half of all births in the U.S.

They compared the prevalence of major birth defects among infants born to women exposed to atomoxetine in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy to the prevalence among infants born to women not exposed to any ADHD drug during the period beginning three months before their last menstrual period and concluding at the end of the first trimester.

The team adjusted for maternal characteristics such as maternal age, calendar year of delivery, childbirth and medical characteristics, psychiatric conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and smoking.

In more than 2.4 million births in the four Nordic countries, and almost 1.8 million births in the U.S., there was absolutely no sign of increased prevalence of major infant malformations among infants born to mothers taking atomoxetine. 

More specifically looking at heart defects, there was again no significant association with maternal atomoxetine use, either in the Nordic population, the U.S. population, or the combined populations.

For limb malformations, there was again no significant association between maternal atomoxetine use and birth defects in the combined populations. There was an appearance of a significant association in the Nordic population, but that was based on only 5 instances, and because there were zero instances in the U.S. population, there was no net association at all in the combined population of more than 4.2 million.

The team concluded, “We found no increased prevalence of major congenital malformations overall associated with atomoxetine use in early pregnancy. The increased prevalence of limb malformations in the Nordic countries was not observed in the US. … Given the low absolute risk of both of these outcomes, these results are reassuring from a public health perspective and provide important information in the consideration of whether to continue treatment with atomoxetine during pregnancy.”

January 15, 2024

Hong Kong population study finds methylphenidate use is associated with reduced risk of fractures among persons with ADHD

Hong Kong Population Study Finds Methylphenidate Use is Associated With Reduced Risk of Fractures Among Persons with ADHD

Some animal studies and laboratory experiments have suggested that methylphenidate, the most widely prescribed pharmaceutical to treat ADHD, may weaken bones. On the other hand, other studies have indicated that methylphenidate is associated with lower risk of injury.

Some animal studies and laboratory experiments have suggested that methylphenidate, the most widely prescribed pharmaceutical to treat ADHD, may weaken bones. On the other hand, other studies have indicated that methylphenidate is associated with lower risk of injury.

What, then, is the overall effect? 

The Hong Kong Hospital Authority is the sole public health provider for the city’s 7.3 million residents. Using the Clinical Data Analysis and Reporting System, the Authority’s electronic database, an international study team set out to explore this question.

Among 43,841 individuals with ADHD medication, the team identified 2,023 children and youths 5 through 24 years old with both methylphenidate prescription and a fracture between January 2001 and December 2020. 

In the six months following prescription, individuals were found to be roughly 40% less likely to be treated for a fracture than in the six months prior to prescription. The same held true when comparing the period 7 to 12 months after prescription with the six months prior to prescription. 

As a control, the team also looked at the effect of methylphenidate prescription on a completely unrelated condition – diseases of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. 

In this case, there was absolutely no difference in disease incidence for equal periods of time before and after initiation of methylphenidate treatment.

The team concluded, “for all-cause fractures, the results of the … within-individual comparison demonstrated that the use of methylphenidate is associated with lower risk … compared with the … period before the treatment initiation.”

January 30, 2024

Norwegian nationwide population study finds no association between maternal organophosphate pesticide exposure and offspring ADHD

Population Study Finds No Association Between Maternal Organophosphate Exposure and Offspring ADHD

Organophosphate pesticides were originally developed as nerve agents for chemical warfare, then used in lower doses as insecticides.

Organophosphate pesticides were originally developed as nerve agents for chemical warfare, then used in lower doses as insecticides. 

Their neurotoxicity raises the possibility of effects on development of the nervous system at lower doses, including psychiatric disorders.

Previous studies have found mixed results for any association with ADHD.

Norway has a single-payer health insurance system that covers virtually the entire population, facilitating nationwide population studies. 

A primarily Norwegian study team used the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study, a prospective population-based cohort that enrolled participants between 1999 and 2008 to explore possible associations. The study invited all 227,702 pregnant mothers to enroll, of which 112,908 (41%) actually enrolled.

Children were eligible for the present study if they were born after 2002, did not have Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy, had available maternal biospecimens, were the result of a singleton pregnancy, and lived near Oslo (the location of the clinic). That left a sample of 24,035.

The team used the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) to identify diagnosed cases of ADHD. 

From the final eligible population, the team randomly selected 552 mother-child pairs to represent the exposure distribution in the population of pregnancies that gave rise to the cases of ADHD.

At about 17 weeks into pregnancy, maternal spot urine samples were collected at the mother’s first ultrasound appointment. These samples were then tested for concentrations of organophosphate metabolites (breakdown chemicals). 

Adjustments were made for a variety of possible confounding variables: season, birth year, maternal education, vegetable intake, fruit intake, maternal self-reported ADHD, financial status, other organophosphorus pesticides, and sex.

Comparing higher versus lower maternal exposures to organophosphates, no significant differences emerged in rates of ADHD diagnosis among offspring.

February 5, 2024

Meta-analysis reports weak evidence for mindfulness interventions for children and adolescents with ADHD

Meta-analysis Reports Weak Evidence for Mindfulness Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ADHD

Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness meditations include choosing a point of focus, such as breathing, and focusing on it continuously. They may also involve focusing single-mindedly on body movements, as in Yoga.

Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness meditations include choosing a point of focus, such as breathing, and focusing on it continuously. They may also involve focusing single-mindedly on body movements, as in Yoga. This could be potentially useful because in focusing on the present moment with attention and emotion regulation, it addresses regulatory capacities impaired in ADHD.

Previous studies of efficacy of mindfulness interventions have been inconclusive, limited by low methodological quality. A Taiwanese study team tried to remedy this with a fresh meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

The team included three types of RCTs: yoga intervention, mindfulness-based psychological intervention, and mediation training. There was a lot of variation in the length of individual sessions and in the total number of hours of intervention.

Five studies used a waiting list control group. Two studies used treatment as usual or standard care as control groups. Only four studies followed best practices of using an active control group, such as a listening task, behavioral therapy, cooperative activities, or an emotional education program.

Twelve studies scored between 4 and 7 points from a possible total of 10 points, suggesting at best moderate methodological quality. More seriously, there was no indication of patient and therapist blinding.

With all these limitations, the one nominally positive result was for improvement in ADHD symptoms. A meta-analysis of seven RCTs with a combined 184 participants found a large reduction in ADHD symptoms post-treatment that did not persist at follow-up a couple months later. But between-study variation (heterogeneity) was extreme, with evidence of publication bias. The authors did not offer a revised estimate of efficacy based on the standard trim-and-fill adjustment.

Two additional meta-analyses, of seven RCTs with 200 participants, and seven RCTs with 215 participants, found no improvement in either externalizing or internalizing behaviors post-treatment. This time there was no sign of publication bias in either case. For externalizing behaviors, there was negligible heterogeneity, and moderate heterogeneity for internalizing behaviors.

A meta-analysis of four RCTs combining 122 participants found a moderate improvement in child mindfulness post-treatment, but it was not statistically significant.

February 13, 2024

Nationwide population study finds no harm from in utero exposure to ADHD medication

Nationwide Population Study Finds No Harm from In Utero Exposure to ADHD Medication

Now that ADHD pharmaceuticals are among the most widely prescribed medications during pregnancy, we need to be aware of any long-term harms to offspring from in utero exposure.

Now that ADHD pharmaceuticals are among the most widely prescribed medications during pregnancy, we need to be aware of any long-term harms to offspring from in-utero exposure.

Denmark has a single-payer public health care system that encompasses virtually its entire population. Combined with national registers that track demographic as well as health data for the whole population, this makes it easy to do population-wide studies.

Availing itself of these registers, an international study team looked at all 1,068,073 single births from 1998 to 2015. It then followed all these individuals through the end of 2018, or until any developmental diagnosis, death, or emigration, whichever came first.

The team compared children of mothers who continued ADHD medication (methylphenidate, amphetamine, dexamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine, modafinil, atomoxetine, clonidine) during pregnancy with children of mothers who discontinued ADHD medication before pregnancy. There were 898 of the former and 1,270 of the latter in the cohort.

To reduce the influence of potential confounding variables, the team adjusted for maternal age, parity, maternal psychiatric history, in- or outpatient admission to psychiatric ward within two years prior to pregnancy and until delivery, use of other psychotropic medications during pregnancy, number of hospitalizations during pregnancy not related to psychiatry, smoking during pregnancy, living alone, education, birthyear, and psychiatric history of the father. 

Children exposed in utero to ADHD medication were found to be at no greater risk of any developmental impairment.

The timing of the exposure by trimester of pregnancy made no difference. Neither did the duration of exposure.

Neither children exposed to stimulant medications (methylphenidate, amphetamine, dexamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine, modafinil) nor to non-stimulants (atomoxetine, clonidine) were at greater risk of any developmental impairment

Focusing more narrowly on specific impairments, children exposed in utero to ADHD medication were no more likely to be autistic. They were more likely to have ADHD, but the association did not reach statistical significance.

Children exposed in utero to ADHD medication were also no more likely to develop hearing or cerebral vision impairment or febrile seizures or a growth impairment. Surprisingly, they were 40% less likely to become epileptic, the only statistically significant association found in the study.

The authors concluded, “Our results are important because stimulant medications are critical for many adults, including women of childbearing age, to perform their essential functions at work, home, and school. Pregnant women who depend on stimulants for daily functioning must weigh the potential of exposing their fetus to unknown developmental risks against potential medical, financial, and other consequences to both mother and child that are associated with exacerbation of ADHD symptoms when stopping the medication, such as inability to maintain employment and unsafe driving. The present study provides reassurance that several essential categories of child outcomes that could reasonably be suspected to be affected by stimulants, including body growth, neurodevelopment, and seizure risk, do not differ based on antenatal stimulant exposure. Future studies would benefit from larger sample sizes making it possible to conduct stratified analyses on ADHD medication type.”

Study of U.S. 12th grade public and private school students finds no link between stimulant use for ADHD and subsequent cocaine or methamphetamine use

Large Scale Study of U.S. High Schoolers Finds No Link Between Stimulant Use for ADHD and Subsequent Cocaine or Methamphetamine Use

Monitoring the Future is a multicohort U.S. national longitudinal study of adolescents followed up into young adulthood.

Monitoring the Future is a multicohort U.S. national longitudinal study of adolescents followed up into young adulthood. 

The U.S. research team used data from this study to follow 5,034 twelfth graders over a period of six years, until they were 23 and 24 years of age.

Prescription stimulant misuse was assessed at baseline and each follow-up survey year by asking how often they used prescription stimulants without a physician’s orders. They were similarly asked about cocaine and methamphetamine use.

The study team adjusted for the following confounding variables: sex, race and ethnicity, parents’ level of education, urbanicity, U.S. region, cohort year, grade point average during high school, past-30-day cigarette use (at 18 years of age), past-2-week binge drinking (at 18), past-year marijuana use (at 18), past-year prescription opioid misuse (at 18), past-year prescription stimulant misuse (at 18), lifetime cocaine use (at 18), lifetime methamphetamine use (at 18), lifetime use of nonstimulant therapy for ADHD (at 18), and discontinued use of stimulant therapy for ADHD (at 18).

With these adjustments, they found that stimulant use for ADHD was in no way associated with subsequent cocaine use. In fact, it was associated with lesser odds of subsequent cocaine use, though the association was not statistically significant.

Likewise, they reported that stimulant use for ADHD was in no way associated with subsequent methamphetamine use.

On the other hand, those who used prescription stimulants without a physician’s orders were 2.6 times more likely to subsequently use either cocaine or methamphetamine.

The team concluded, “In this multicohort study of adolescents exposed to prescription stimulants, adolescents who used stimulant therapy for ADHD did not differ from population controls in initiation of illicit stimulant (cocaine or methamphetamine) use, which suggested a potential protective effect, given evidence of elevated illicit stimulant use among those with ADHD. In contrast, monitoring adolescents for PSM is warranted because this behavior offered a strong signal for transitioning to later cocaine or methamphetamine initiation and use during young adulthood.”

February 15, 2024

Meta-analysis suggests ADHD contributes significantly to alcohol use disorder in persons with comorbid bipolar disorder

Meta-analysis suggests ADHD contributes significantly to alcohol use disorder in persons with comorbid bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a severe mental illness that afflicts over one in fifty persons worldwide. About a quarter of those with bipolar disorder also has alcohol use disorder (AUD). This in turn complicates the treatment of their bipolar disorder. It exacerbates their symptoms, makes them more likely to be suicidal, and increases the risk of hospitalization.

More than one in five persons with bipolar disorder also have ADHD, which is likewise known to be correlated with AUD. To what extent does ADHD contribute to AUD in persons with comorbid bipolar disorder?

A European study team recently conducted a systematic search of the peer-reviewed medical literature to address that question. The team identified eleven studies with a combined total of 2,734 participants that could be aggregated to perform a meta-analysis.

They found that persons with comorbid ADHD and bipolar disorder were two and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder than persons with bipolar disorder but no ADHD.

Between-study heterogeneity was negligible, and there was no sign of publication bias.

The authors concluded, "At least a portion of the high rates of AUD in BD may, thereby, be related to comorbid ADHD. Longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the nature of this relationship."

March 13, 2022

Is Oxytocin During Childbirth an ADHD Risk Factor Later in Life?

Danish-Finnish countrywide population studies conclude that administration of oxytocin during childbirth is not a risk factor for ADHD

Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that stimulates the contraction of the uterus during labor. Synthetic oxytocin is widely administered during labor to supplement a birthing parent's supply and facilitate childbirth.

Previous studies have found an association between synthetic oxytocin and increased odds of ADHD in offspring.

A joint Danish and Finnish team used their countries' national registers to obtain countrywide cohorts encompassing over 577,000 Danes and over 945,000 Finns. Oxytocin had been administered in 31% of the Danish deliveries and 46% of the Finnish ones. Any children either diagnosed with ADHD or who received prescriptions for ADHD drugs were categorized as having ADHD.

As in previous studies, unadjusted results found a significant association with ADHD. Combining the two populations, children whose mothers had received oxytocin during labor were 16% more likely to later develop ADHD.

After adjusting for a series of confounders such as birth year, maternal age, education, marital status, parity, smoking in pregnancy, labor induction, gestational age, and intrauterine growth, the association dropped markedly, to an increased likelihood of barely 3%.

Looking at Denmark alone, the unadjusted risk was 9% greater, vanishing altogether after adjusting for confounders. In Finland, the unadjusted risk was 20% greater, declining to 4% after adjusting for confounders.

The authors noted that "Exposure to obstetric oxytocin is not a random process, and it is likely that other factors than the ones included here vary systematically between women treated vs not treated with oxytocin. ... Therefore, we find it most likely that the minor elevations in risk are due to uncontrolled and residual confounding, and thereby our results underscore the lack of a causal association between obstetric oxytocin exposure and ADHD."

February 1, 2022

Breastfeeding associated with an almost 2/3 reduction in risk of ADHD

Breastfeeding associated with an almost 2/3 reduction in risk of ADHD

Preschool children who were never breastfed as infants are much more likely to have a medical diagnosis of ADHD than are children who were exclusively breastfed as infants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy and continuation of breastfeeding for at least a year thereafter. Yet less than a third of U.S. mothers are still breastfeeding their infants at 12 months.

Previous studies have suggested that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of ADHD. But sample sizes have been small, and have not sufficiently explored confounding factors.

Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health, a research team analyzed data from a representative U.S. sample of 12,793 three- to five-year-old children.

The team excluded children with autism, developmental delays, speech problems, Tourette syndrome, epilepsy or seizure disorder, hearing problems, non-correctable vision problems, bone/joint/muscle problems, brain injury/concussion, or any current behavioral/conduct problems other than ADHD.

The team also adjusted for potential confounders. Some were demographic: sex, age, race, household income, the number of adults older than 18 years of age living in the home, and the number of children younger than the age of 18 years living in the home. Other variables related to health care access and delivery: insurance type, consistency of health insurance in the past 12 months, and a composite variable reflecting having a primary care provider, getting needed referrals, and effective care coordination. Exposure to secondhand smoke and preterm births were other key variables.

In the fully adjusted results, children who had been breastfed for at least six months were 62% less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those who had not (p = .0483). Moreover, each month of breastfeeding duration was associated with a significant additional 8% reduction in the odds of an ADHD diagnosis (95% confidence interval from 1% to 14%).

The authors concluded, "Preschool children who were never breastfed as infants were much more likely to have a medical diagnosis of ADHD than were children who were exclusively breastfed. Moreover, there seems to be a continuum of neuroprotective benefits associated with breastfeeding duration. Although these analyses cannot establish a causal relationship, our findings add to a growing body of literature-including several longitudinal studies and a meta-analysis-that suggests breastfeeding may reduce the likelihood of a child having later problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity. Although follow-up studies are needed to further examine the relationship between infant feeding and ADHD, these findings provide evidence to support the neurodevelopmental benefits of breastfeeding."

January 28, 2022

Is Antibiotic Use in Infancy a Risk-Factor for ADHD? How Do We Know?

Nationwide twin cohorts in the Netherlands and Sweden suggest antibiotic use in infants is not a risk factor for ADHD

There was no association found between ADHD and ASD diagnoses and early antibiotic use when environmental and genetic family factors were taken into account.

Proper development of the gut biota is important for the health of the brain and nervous system. It has been hypothesized that disturbances of gut bacteria by antibiotics could contribute to the development of neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD.

In the case of ADHD, studies to date have produced conflicting results. To tease out any familial confounding reflecting shared environment and genetics, a joint Dutch-Swedish team of researchers further tested the hypothesis through 7- to 12-year-old twins in the Netherlands Twin Register (25,781 twins) and 9-year-old twins in the Swedish Twin Registry (7,946 twins).

ADHD symptoms in the Netherlands cohort were derived from mothers' answers to the short Conners' Parental Rating Scale-Revised. For the Swedish cohort, ADHD was determined through the International Classification of Diseases codes for ADHD in the cross-linked National Patient Register.

Exposure to antibiotics during the first two years of childhood was determined by parent reports for the Netherlands twin cohort, and by prescription claims for antibiotics in the Swedish twin cohort.

Covariates were explored in both twin cohorts including educational attainment of parents, gender of the infant, birth weight, delivery mode, and asthma. Breastfeeding was also explored in the Dutch cohort.

In the unmatched analysis, comparing children with ADHD with non-related children without ADHD, early-life antibiotic use was associated with a significant 8% greater odds of ADHD in the Netherlands cohort and a significant 14% greater odds of ADHD in the Swedish cohort.

However, when limiting the analysis to matched monozygotic twins, the association disappeared altogether in both the Dutch and Swedish cohorts. Pooling both cohorts resulted in the same outcome. In all three cases, the odds flipped into a mildly negative association, but with no statistical significance.

Using higher cutoff values for ADHD symptoms made no difference.

The authors concluded, "In this large co-twin study performed in two countries, early-life antibiotic use was associated with increased risk of ADHD and ASD, but the results suggest that the association disappeared when controlled for shared familial environment and genetics, indicating that this association may be susceptible to confounding. Our results indicate that there is no association between ADHD and ASD diagnoses and early antibiotic use when environmental and genetic family factors are taken into account."

January 24, 2022

Population Study Finds Association Between ADHD and Obesity in Adolescents

Israeli nationwide population study finds association between ADHD and obesity in adolescents

After noting that the association between ADHD and obesity has been called into question because of small sample sizes, wide age ranges, self-reported assessments, and inadequate attention to potential confounders, an Israeli study team set out "to assess the association between board-certified psychiatrist diagnoses of ADHD and measured adolescent BMI [body mass index] in a nationally represented sample of over one million adolescents who were medically evaluated before mandatory military service."

The team distinguished between severe and mild ADHD. It also focused on a single age group.

All Israelis are subject to compulsory military service. In preparation for that service, military physicians perform a thorough medical evaluation. Trained paramedics recorded every conscript's height and weight.

The study cohort was divided into five BMI percentile groups according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's BMI percentiles for 17-year-olds, and further divided by sex: <5th percentile (underweight), 5th-49th percentile (low-normal), 50th-84th percentile (high normal), 85th-94th percentile (overweight) and ≥95th (obese). Low-normal was used as the reference group.

Adjustments were made for sex, birth year, age at examination, height, country of birth (Israeli or other), socioeconomic status, and education level.

In the fully adjusted results, those with severe ADHD were 32% more likely to be overweight and 84% more likely to be obese than their typically developing peers. Limiting results to Israeli-born conscripts made a no difference.

Male adolescents with mild ADHD were 24% more likely to be overweight, and 42% more likely to be obese. Females with mild ADHD are 33% more likely to be overweight, and 42% more likely to be obese. Again, the country of birth made no difference.

The authors concluded, that both severe and mild ADHD was associated with an increased risk for obesity in adolescents at the age of 17 years. The increasing recognition of the persistence of ADHD into adulthood suggests that this dual morbidity may have a significant impact on the long-term health of individuals with ADHD, thus early preventive measures should be taken.

January 6, 2022

How Effective is Cognitive Training for Preschool Children?

How effective is cognitive training for preschool children?

Further study is needed, but meta-analysis shows small, but not insignificant, effects of pre-school interventions on core executive functions.

A German team of researchers performed a comprehensive search of the medical literature and identified 35randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in English that explored this question. Participating children were between three and six years old. Children with intellectual disabilities, sensory disabilities, or specific neurological disorders such as epilepsy were excluded.

The total number of participating preschoolers was over three thousand, drawn almost exclusively from the general population, meaning these studies were not specifically evaluating effects on children with ADHD. But given that ADHD results in poorer executive functioning, evidence of the effectiveness of cognitive training would suggest it could help partially reverse such deficits.

RCTs assign participants randomly to a treatment group and a group not receiving treatment but often receiving a placebo. But RCTs themselves vary in risk of bias, depending on:

  • whether the control condition was passive (i.e. waiting list or no treatment) or active/sham (an activity of similar duration and intensity to the treatment condition)
  • whether the outcome was measured by subjective rating (e.g. by questionnaires, susceptible to reporting biases) or more objective neuropsychological testing;
  • whether the assessment of outcome was by blinded assessors unaware of participants' treatment conditions;
  • whether there was a risk of bias from participants dropping out of the trial.

After evaluating the RCTs by these criteria, the team performed a series of meta-analyses.

Combining the 23 RCTs with over 2,000 children that measured working memory, they found that cognitive training led to robust moderate improvements. Looking only at the eleven most rigorously controlled studies strengthened the effect, with moderate-to-large gains.

Twenty-six RCTs with over 2,200 children assessed inhibitory control. When pooled, they indicated a small-to-moderate improvement from cognitive training. Including only the seven most rigorously controlled studies again strengthened the effect, boosting it into the moderate effect zone.

Twelve RCTs with over 1,500 participants tested the effects of cognitive training on flexibility. When combined, they pointed to moderate gains. Looking at only the four well-controlled studies boosted the effect to strong gains. Yet here there was evidence of publication bias, so no firm conclusion can be drawn.

Only four studies with a combined total of 119 preschoolers tested the effects on ADHD ratings. The meta-analysis found a small but non-significant improvement, very likely due to insufficient sampling. As the authors noted, "some findings of the meta-analysis are limited by the insufficient number of eligible studies. Specifically, more studies are needed which use blinded assessments of subjective ratings of ADHD ... symptoms ..."

The authors concluded that their meta-analyses revealed significant, mostly medium-sized effects of the preschool interventions on core EFs [executive functions] in studies showing the low risk of bias."

January 2, 2022

Youth ADHD is associated with elevated risks of subsequent psychotic disorder

Youth ADHD is associated with elevated risks of subsequent psychotic disorder

A French team of physicians conducted a systematic search of peer-reviewed literature to conduct a meta-analysis to examine the relationship between childhood ADHD and subsequent psychotic disorders.

What relationship, if any, might there be between childhood ADHD and subsequent psychotic disorders? Previous epidemiological studies have produced conflicting results.


A French team of physicians conducted a systematic search of the peer-reviewed literature to conduct a meta-analysis to examine this question in greater depth.
They pooled twelve studies with a combined total of 1.85 million participants, consisting of 124,095 with ADHD and just over 1.72 million controls.


The psychotic disorders analyzed included schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, brief psychotic disorder, and psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. These disorders had to be diagnosed after the diagnosis of ADHD in children and adolescents under 18 years old.


The meta-analysis found that persons diagnosed in childhood or adolescence with ADHD were well over four times more likely to have subsequent diagnoses of psychotic disorders than those without a diagnosis of ADHD. Limiting the meta-analysis to the six studies that were adjusted for confounders produced an identical result.


There were no statistically significant between-group differences for subgroup analyses comparing psychotic disorder or schizophrenia outcomes, cohort or case-control study design, and adjusted or unadjusted estimates. There were no significant differences between males and females.


Heterogeneity among studies was moderate (43%), and there was no sign of publication bias. Removing one study reduced heterogeneity to low levels (18%), while very slightly raising the odds of subsequent diagnosis of psychotic disorder. Looking only at the more restrictive diagnosis of schizophrenia also made no difference in the odds.


No matter how the data were analyzed, in all instances, the odds of subsequent diagnosis of psychotic disorder rose well over fourfold for those diagnosed with ADHD in their youth.


The authors concluded, "To improve our knowledge, further cohort studies should be conducted. Ideally, these studies would ensure a sufficiently long follow-up to account for the mean age at which P [psychotic disorders] develop. Such studies should consider the use of psychostimulants and the role of SUD [substance use disorder] in the causal path between ADHD and PD."

December 25, 2021

Youths with ADHD May Face Higher Risk of Injury From Unintentional Falls

American youths with ADHD face elevated risks of serious harm from unintentional falls

A team of Stanford researchers examined data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to determine just how strong the association between injury from unintentional falls and ADHD is.

In the five years from 2006 through 2010, the child falls led to 11,535 head injuries in the United States, costing a billion dollars to treat. Previous studies have shown that persons with ADHD were more prone to accidental falls than normally developing individuals. Just how strong is that association among American youth?

A team of Stanford University researchers examined data for falls among youths under 18 years old from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), covering 953 hospitals in 36 states between 2010 and 2015. These included falls from stairs, ladders, or scaffolding; falls from buildings or other structures; falls into holes; other falls from one level to another; falls on the same level from collisions, pushing, shoving, slipping, tripping, or stumbling.

Out of almost 49 million injuries involving youths recorded by hospital emergency departments in the NEDS from 2010 to 2015, there were 13,217,237 million falls, 139,642 of which involved youths 5-17 years old with ADHD only. These were compared with almost 7.8 million involving youths 5-17 years old with developmental disabilities.

The team adjusted for the following covariates to reduce confounding: age category, sex, income, payment source, developmental disability status, and mechanism of fall.

Youths with ADHD were found to be roughly 75% more likely than normally developing youths to be admitted for unintentional falls in hospital emergency departments. They were about 60% more likely to be admitted for hospital stays exceeding two days. They were almost twice as likely to require surgery. And they were four times as likely to require intubation through the mouth and into the airway to be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.

These outcomes are not surprising, given that a large proportion of youths with ADHD are prone to be more inattentive and/or impulsive on average than their normally developing peers. But they underscore the need for parents and physicians to take preventive action to reduce the chance of harm.

The authors "suggest that practitioners who provide care for children with ADHD spend extra time on educating parents regarding the increased risk of falls, especially among older children, to decrease the odds of worse outcomes from unintentional falls."

December 23, 2021

Parents of Children With ADHD at Higher Risk for Traumatic Injury

Nationwide population study finds higher risk of traumatic injury among parents of children with ADHD

Previous population studies have shown that children with ADHD have a much higher risk of traumatic injuries than their normally developing peers, and that such risk can be greatly reduced with methylphenidate treatment.

But what about the parents of children with ADHD? How does their risk compare with that of parents of normally developing children?

Taiwan has a single-payer public health insurance system that maintains comprehensive healthcare records of virtually every resident.

A Taiwanese research team availed itself of the Taiwan Maternal and Child Health Database, which covers 99.8% of all births, to identify 81,401 fathers and 87,549 mothers who had at least one offspring with ADHD and 1,646,100 fathers and 1,730,941 mothers with no offspring with ADHD.

The team determined children's ADHD status based on either an inpatient diagnosis or four or more  diagnoses.

It looked for parental traumatic injuries including burn injury, fracture, and traumatic brain injury.

To address covariates, it adjusted for age, urbanicity, low-income level, and competing risk of death.

Adjusted for those covariates, parents of children with ADHD were 20% more likely to suffer bone fractures, 27% more likely to have traumatic brain injuries, and 30% more likely to have burn injuries requiring medical treatment than parents of normally developing children.

The elevated risks were significant across the board, but roughly twice as much s for mothers as for fathers of children with ADHD - up 30% vs 15% for bone fractures, up 35% vs 23% for burn injuries, and up 45% vs 21% for traumatic brain injuries.

The authors noted that ADHD is highly heritable and that the findings may in part point to undiagnosed adult ADHD.

Another contributing factor, they suggested, is that "studies have revealed that a high proportion of parents having children with ADHD experience depression and anxiety. Stress-related negative emotions (depression and anxiety) were shown to cause loss of concentration, thereby increasing the likelihood of accidental events such as traffic accidents and contributing to the increased risks of traumatic injury among parents of children  ADHD."

The much-higher elevated risk for mothers seems to support this hypothesis, because mothers continue to be the principal caregivers in Taiwan, and are thus more exposed to the behaviors of their children. The authors cited a study indicating that "diagnosis of ADHD for children was reported to be a predictor of increased caregiver burden."

They concluded, "Given that knowledge is fundamental to act, it is essential to educate the parents of children with ADHD on the increased risk of traumatic injuries they may have. ... The need for behavioral and pharmacological intervention in parents of children with ADHD should be evaluated, especially in the parents with undiagnosed ADHD or sub-threshold ADHD symptoms. It deserves further prospective studies with longer follow-up periods to explore whether undiagnosed ADHD, care burden of parents, and children's aggressive behaviors contribute to the increased risks of traumatic injuries in parents of children with ADHD."

December 7, 2023

Swedish countrywide population study concludes that neonatal jaundice is not tied to ADHD

Swedish countrywide population study concludes that neonatal jaundice is not tied to ADHD

Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment formed in the liver by the breakdown of hemoglobin and excreted in bile. Elevated levels in blood serum can cause jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, or whites of the eyes.

More than one in twenty Swedish newborns are treated for neonatal jaundice, which is particularly common among preterm babies. It is usually benign.

A team of Swedish researchers used e Swedish Medical Birth Register, which contains information on all children born in the country, to identify all 814,420 single births without birth defects between 1992 and 2000, and followed them until 2009. They then identified instances of neonatal jaundice and of ADHD through linked nationwide medical registers.

The team also identified a sub-sample of full siblings (384,290 children from 181,354 families) in order to control for shared familial traits.

In the unadjusted results, children with any kind of neonatal jaundice were 38% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. After adjustment for known confounding variables, two-thirds of the association disappeared, with a residual increased risk of 13%.

There are, however, two types of neonatal jaundice: hemolytic and non-hemolytic. Hemolytic jaundice is typically caused by the mother's immune system mistaking the fetus' red blood cells as a threat, and responding by attacking with antibodies, rupturing and destroying the cells.

The study found no association between hemolytic jaundice and ADHD, either in the raw results or after adjusting for known confounders. Unsurprisingly, there was also no association in the sibling comparison.

That meant that all the association was concentrated among children born with non-hemolytic jaundice, who in the crude results were 43% more likely to subsequently develop ADHD. Adjusting for known confounders again reduced the association by two-thirds, to 14%. But among siblings, that association vanished altogether. Children born with non-hemolytic jaundice were no more likely than their non-jaundiced siblings to develop ADHD.

The authors concluded that "neonatal jaundice is not likely a causal risk factor for ADHD."

December 14, 2023

Meta-analysis Finds Narrative Language Impairment in Youths with ADHD

Meta-analysis Finds Narrative Language Impairment in Youths with ADHD

Youths with ADHD are known to be more prone to language problems when compared with typically developing peers. To what extent does that affect their ability to share a narrative with others?

A Danish research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed medical literature to explore this question. They stressed that this ability is important because "a narrative is a genre of discourse - a form of social communication used to derive meaning from experiences and to construct a shared understanding of events. In other words, it is the fundamental ability of orally producing a coherent story." They focused on the production of narratives rather than comprehension.

Studies had to have a minimum of 10 participants. They had to compare aspects of oral narrative production in children and adolescents with either a formal ADHD diagnosis or a score above a clinical cut-off on a validated ADHD rating scale to a control group of typically developing youths. Youths with confirmed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or language impairment diagnoses were excluded. There were no constraints on IQ.

The team found sixteen studies with a combined total of 1,015 youths that met these criteria and were suitable for meta-analysis.

They examined seven aspects of oral narrative production:

·        Coherence: A story structure that is logical and easy to follow in cause and sequence. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are goals, attempts, and outcomes. A meta-analysis of nine studies with a combined total of 750 participants found youths with ADHD less coherent than their typically developing peers, with a medium effect size. There was virtually no between-study heterogeneity and no sign of publication bias.
·        Cohesion: This ensures referencing of events and characters in a manner that enables the listener to grasp how characters, events, and ideas in a story are related. Ambiguous or contradictory references get in the way of this. A meta-analysis of eight studies with a combined total of 501 participants found youths with ADHD showed less cohesion than their typically developing peers, with a medium effect size. Again, with virtually no between-study heterogeneity, and no sign of publication bias.
·        Disruptions: These can be sequence errors, misinterpretations, embellishments, or confabulations - fabricating imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory. A meta-analysis of six studies with 389 participants found youths with ADHD had more disruptions than their typically developing peers, with a small-to-medium effect size. There was virtually no between-study heterogeneity and no sign of publication bias.
·        Fluency: Best explained in terms of errors that interfere with this quality, such as false starts, repeating words or sentences, and abandoning sentences without completing them. A meta-analysis of four studies with 220 participants found no difference in fluency between youths with ADHD and their typically developing peers.
·        Production: This is a measure of output -overall length of the story, number of sentences, number of words. After adjusting for evidence of publication bias, a meta-analysis of twelve studies with 645 participants found no difference here.
·        Syntactic complexity: This includes the extent of vocabulary and the use of proper grammar. A meta-analysis of six studies with 272 participants found youths with ADHD displayed less syntactic complexity than their typically developing peers, with a small-to-medium effect size. There was virtually no between-study heterogeneity and no sign of publication bi
·        Internal state language: References to perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. There were only two studies with 130 participants, so no meta-analysis was performed.

The authors concluded, "the results from the current meta-analysis suggest that children with ADHD have impairments in their narrative language. In particular, children with ADHD produce narratives that are less coherent, less cohesive, less syntactically complex, and include more disruptive errors than typically developing children do."

December 4, 2023

A nationwide population study examines sleep problems in youth with ADHD

A nationwide population study examines sleep problems in youth with ADHD

Denmark has a universal health insurance system that requires tracking all health care data in a system of national registries. That makes it possible to explore what's going on in an entire national population, rather than have to rely on sampling a small part of it, and hoping the sampling is reasonably representative.

A team of Danish researchers used the Civil Registration System to identify all single births through 1993 through 2014 and linked those records to corresponding records in the Psychiatric Central Research Register and National Patient Register for the years 2011through 2016. There were 1,397,850 youths in that cohort, of whom 12,844 were diagnosed with ADHD during the study period.

At five years of follow-up after diagnosis, almost three in ten youths with ADHD (29 percent) had registered evidence of sleep problems (including the use of melatonin, which is by prescription only in Denmark). For those with concomitant conduct disorder, almost half (45 percent) had registered evidence of sleep problems.

In the general population, on the other hand, the cumulative risk of sleep problems at five years of follow-up varied from one in a hundred for children followed from age 5 or age 10 to one in forty for those followed from age 15.

After adjusting for the confounding effects of three other neurodevelopmental disorders - autism spectrum disorder, oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder, and epilepsy­- youths with ADHD were still roughly 23 times more likely to have sleeping problems than were normally developing youths.

The authors cautioned, however, that the low rate of sleep problems in the general population "may indicate that sleeping problems without coexisting neurodevelopmental disorders are generally diagnosed or treated in primary health care (and hence not included in our study)."

A further limitation, they added, is that "we can not exclude the possibility of residual confounding. Thus, it remains unclear whether neurodevelopmental disorder contributes to the sleep problem or whether certain unmeasured characteristics of children with neurodevelopmental disorders may explain the apparent association with sleep problems."

September 27, 2023

Meta-analysis Finds Association Between Postnatal Secondhand Smoke and ADHD

Meta-analysis finds association between postnatal secondhand smoke and ADHD

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is tobacco smoke inhaled by nonsmokers sharing enclosed spaces with smokers. It contains well over two hundred toxic chemicals, including some toxic metals known to cause serious harm to humans. It is among the most common indoor air pollutants worldwide, with roughly two in five children exposed.

Until now, studies have focused primarily on maternal smoking before childbirth. A Chinese research team set out to explore what, if any, association there might be between childhood exposure to SHS and ADHD. They conducted a comprehensive search of the peer-reviewed literature and identified nine studies with a combined total of over a hundred thousand participants that looked for such effects. The studies were carried out in the United States, Germany, Spain, and the Republic of Korea.

Merging these studies into a meta-analysis, the team found that children exposed to secondhand smoke were 60 percent more likely to develop ADHD. The same overall pattern held true on all three continents.

A further meta-analysis of four of the studies with over 12,000 participants found children exposed to secondhand smoke were 33% more likely to exhibit conduct problems.

The authors concluded, "The results of our meta-analysis suggest that postnatal exposure to SHS may be associated with ADHD in children. Exposure to SHS can also lead to a variety of adverse behavioral outcomes in children. Therefore, parents should stop smoking to create a good growing environment for their children. Further prospective studies should fully adjust for potential confounding factors to determine whether there is a causal relationship between SHS and ADHD."

December 4, 2023

Why are children born in August more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD?

Why are children born in August more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD?

Taiwan's single-payer National Health Insurance system encompasses its entire population, and it's National Health Insurance Research Database tracks all medical claims in the system. That makes it easy to conduct nationwide population studies.

Two Taiwanese research teams availed themselves of that database to explore in-depth a surprising relationship between the birth month of children and rates of ADHD diagnosis.

In principle, the two should be unrelated. The likelihood of diagnosis should be the same regardless of the month a child is born. But the data are clear that this is not so. Children born late in summer are the most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and those in autumn are the least likely.

Using a nationwide database of over 29 million persons, one of the teams (Hsu et al.) found that children born in April were 6% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the year-round mean, those in May 12% more likely, those in June 20% more likely, and those in July and August well over 25% more likely.

Conversely, children born in September were 19% less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the year-round mean, followed by a gradual increase in likelihood with each succeeding month until the following September.

The second team (Chen et al.) analyzed some 9.5 million children and adolescents in the same reserch database, and found that those born in August were 67% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those born in September, after adjusting for age, sex, residence, and income. August births were also almost twice as likely (80% more likely) as September births to be on long-term treatment with ADHD medications.

The first team also performed a meta-analysis of eleven studies with a combined total of over 580,000 participants in North America (the U.S. and Canada), Europe (U.K., Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea), and Oceania (Australia). Children born in the summer (June through August) were 13% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the year-round mean, whereas those born in autumn were 13% less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. This confirms that this pattern is not confined to Taiwan. It is worldwide.

Note carefully that the sharp discontinuity between August and September corresponds with the break-of point that decides which children get assigned to which school class. Anyone who turns a certain age by the start of the school year in September is included in the class associated with that age, whereas those turning the same age later are held back in the following class. That means that in any given class, those born in September are the oldest children and those born in August the youngest.

As signaled earlier, the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis should be independent of something as obviously arbitrary as a birth month. That suggests there may be an unconscious bias trending against younger students when it comes to diagnosis.

Chen et al. concluded, "The effect of relative age on diagnoses and prescriptions was determined to last from childhood to adolescence but attenuated with age. Relative age is an indicator of brain maturity in cognition, behavior, and emotion and may thus play a critical role in the likelihood of being diagnosed as having childhood mental disorders and subsequently being prescribed psychotropic medication. Therefore, clinicians should consider the relative age effect in the childhood mental health care context."

September 14, 2023

Possible Connection: Maternal Thyroid Dysfunction and ADHD in Offspring

Is there an association between maternal thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy and ADHD in offspring?

Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland, occurs in about one in five hundred women. It has been tied to adverse effects in both mother and fetus, including pre-eclampsia (a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and excessive protein in the urine, which can indicate kidney damage), preterm delivery, heart failure, and in uteri retardation of growth.

In hypothyroidism, on the other hand, thyroid activity is abnormally low, which retards growth and mental development. It is particularly common in regions with widespread iodine deficiency. Depending on the region, it affects one in three hundred to one in thirty women. Maternal hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, miscarriage, in uteri growth retardation, and fetal death.

The fetus relies on maternal thyroid hormones until its own thyroid function initiates halfway through pregnancy. As we have just seen, this direct link in the early stages of pregnancy has serious consequences described above. Does it also affect the risk of developing ADHD in offspring?

A team of researchers based in Hong Kong reformed a comprehensive search of the peer-reviewed medical literature on this subject. It then conducted two meta-analyses, one examining maternal hyperthyroidism during pregnancy, the other on maternal hypothyroidism.

The meta-analysis for maternal hyperthyroidism during pregnancy combined two nationwide cohort studies with a total of over 3.1 million persons, using the Danish and Norwegian medical registries. It found a slight but significant association with ADHD in offspring.

The meta-analysis for maternal hypothyroidism during pregnancy included the same two nationwide cohort studies, plus an Israeli nationwide cohort study (along with a tiny U.S. cohort study), with a total of over 3.4 million persons. It likewise found a slight but significant association with ADHD in offspring.

Though the component studies did some assessment of confounders, the authors of the meta-analyses noted, "By including a more comprehensive range of confounding factors and biologically relevant covariate (e.g. thyroxine treatment), future studies are warranted to re-visit the association between maternal thyroid dysfunction and various health outcomes in offspring."

December 8, 2023

Is There an Association Between Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)-exposure in Infancy and ADHD?

Is There an Association Between Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)-Exposure in Infancy and ADHD?

Although there are numerous kinds of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the primary ones used in the manufacture of fluoropolymers are perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Because of their strong water-repelling properties, fluoropolymers are used in stain repellents, polishes, paints, and other coatings, as well as in water-resistant outdoor clothing. They are long-lasting and therefore both pervasive in the home and environment and subject to accumulation in our bodies, especially in urbanized and industrialized areas. These substances can be passed from mother to child both through the placenta and through breastfeeding.

With support from the European Union, a large international team of European and North American researchers set out to investigate possible associations between early-life exposure to PFOS and PFOA and subsequent ADHD. They performed a meta-analysis on nine European population studies encompassing 4,826 mother-child pairs.

Participants were restricted to live-born single births with data on concentrations of PFOS and/or PFOA, and available information on ADHD diagnosis or symptoms.

Because a) some studies looked at maternal serum/plasma, others at maternal breast milk; b) timing of sample collection varied (first trimester, delivery); and c) children's levels during the first two years of life were unavailable (ethical constraints limit drawing blood samples from infants), the team used a validated pharmacokinetic model of pregnancy and lactation to estimate pre-and postnatal concentrations of PFASs in offspring.

The team adjusted for seven potential confounders: maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index, maternal age at delivery, maternal education, maternal smoking, number of previous children, duration of breastfeeding, and child sex.

With these adjustments, no association was found between estimated exposures to either PFOS or PFOA at birth, at three months, and at two years and subsequent diagnosis or symptoms of ADHD. While the raw data showed slightly higher odds for girls than for boys to develop ADHD with identical exposures, the differences were statistically non-significant.

November 27, 2023

Systematic review finds association between ADHD and gaming disorder

Systematic review finds association between ADHD and gaming disorder

The specific type of gaming disorder (GD) that is the focus of this review is "disordered video-gaming," or more precisely the addictive potential of interactive video games played on mobile phones, gaming consoles, individual computers, and over networks. Certain characteristics of such games, including structured rewards and multi-modal sensory stimulation, contribute to that addictive potential. Networked games also allow for direct social engagement through role playing and cooperation with others. They also lead to further opportunities for participation in a wider community of players on forums outside gameplay, such as discussion platforms, video play-through analyses, or live-streaming.

The authors performed a systematic search of the peer-review literature, and identified 29 studies exploring the relationship between Addend GD.

All studies found a positive association between ADHD and GD. Of studies reporting effect sizes, seven reported small effect sizes, three reported medium ones, and three reported large ones. There was a similarly wide variety of reported effect sizes among studies that reported correlations between ADHD scales and GD scales. These ranged from r = .12 (small) to r = .45(large).

Three studies examined longitudinal outcomes. One reported that lower ADHD scores at baseline predicted positive long-term recovery. Another noted that GD was more likely to develop into significant psychiatric symptoms and poorer educational outcomes two years later. The third study found that higher ADHD and GD scores were associated with higher incidences of delinquent or aggressive behaviors and externalizing problems, as compared to a sample with ADHD but not GD. All three studies reported that ADHD was a risk factor for the development of problematic gaming behavior. There was no clear indication of the reverse relationship - GD predicting ADHD.

The authors concluded, "This review found a consistent positive association between ADHD and GD, particularly for the inattention subscale. The strength of the association between ADHD and GD was variable. On symptom severity ratings, there was a positive relationship between scores measuring GD and ADHD pathology in some studies. Fewer studies in this review showed hyperactivity was commonly associated with GD. It is well known that hyperactivity in ADHD tends to improve significantly with age. It is possible that the natural progression of the disorder resulted in lower rates of hyperactivity. Such a hypothesis is strengthened by findings of a stronger association with hyperactivity among children aged between 4 and 8."

Ideas for policy interventions to address disordered video gaming include:

·        Parental controls on games.
·        Warning messages similar to those on cigarette packaging.
·        Organizing help services for gamers.

The authors called for further study on:

·        Effectiveness of intervention strategies.
·        The contribution of GD to the dysfunction associated with ADHD.
·        The relationship between the content of play (e.g., violence) and motivation to play (e.g., escapism) and ADHD symptoms.
role-playin·        The role of depression, anxiety, and another comorbidity in mediating the relationship between ADHD and GD

"Clinicians should beware that ADHD is common in GD," the authors emphasized, "and we, therefore, recommend that ADHD is screened for when evaluating GD as part of routine practice. This would ensure interventions aimed at ADHD can be successfully combined with GD treatment, potentially improving patient outcomes."

October 20, 2021

Meta-analysis Finds "Parent-Training" Helpful in Raising Children with ADHD

Meta-analysis finds behavioral parent training broadly helpful in raising children with ADHD

The aim of behavioral parent training is to improve the child's behavior through improved parenting. Noting that "it is unknown which of its components are most effective," a Dutch team of researchers conducted a systematic search of the peer-reviewed medical literature to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suitable for meta-analysis.

Twenty-nine RCTs with a combined total of 2,345 participants met the criteria.

The team explored five types of outcome variables:

·        Positive parenting: behaviors such as reinforcement, monitoring, stimulating, and guiding the child.
·        Negative parenting: behaviors such as corporal punishment, harsh discipline, inconsistent parenting, and poor monitoring.
·        Parenting sense of competence: the extent to which parents perceive themselves as competent or effective in raising their child.
·        Quality of the parent-child relationship: signs of affection, support, sensitivity, and responsiveness.
and behavioral parent training aims:
·        Parental mental health: measures included parenting stress and several indices of parental psychopathologies, such as depression and anxiety.

A meta-analysis of 19 RCTs with 1,070 participants found a medium effect size improvement in positive parenting. Evidence of publication bias was borderline, but a trim-and-fill adjustment still reported a medium effect size reduction in ADHD symptoms. Similarly, limiting the meta-analysis to the 12 RCTs that were probably blinded made no difference in the outcome.

A second meta-analysis, of 15 RCTs with 878 participants, found a small-to-medium effect size reduction in negative parenting, after adjusting for publication bias. Limiting the meta-analysis to the six RCTs that were probably blinded modestly increased the effect size.

After adjusting for publication bias, a meta-analysis of 13RCTs with a combined total of 783 participants reported a small-to-medium effect size improvement in the quality of parent-child relationships. Limiting the meta-analysis to the six RCTs that were probably blinded made no difference in the outcome.

After adjusting for publication bias, a meta-analysis of 17 RCTs with a combined total of 1,083 participants reported a medium effect size improvement in parent sense of competency.

Finally, with no sign of publication bias, 23 RCTs with a combined total of 1,191 participants found a small-to-medium effect size improvement in parental mental health.

The team concluded, "Parent training had robust small- medium-sized positive effects on all parental outcomes relative to control conditions, both for unblinded and probably blinded measures. ... A reassuring finding was that effect sizes on positive parenting, negative parenting, and the parent-child relationship did not differ between probably blinded and unblinded measures, indicating that effects are not merely attributable to parents' investment affecting their assessment of outcome measures."

October 26, 2023

Children with ADHD have considerably greater odds of being victimized in reported sexual crimes

Children with ADHD have considerably greater odds of being victimized in reported sexual crimes

Youths with disabilities face varying degrees of social exclusion and mental, physical, and sexual violence.

A Danish researcher used the country's extensive national registers to explore reported sexual crimes against youths across the entire population. Of 679,683 youths born from 1984to 1994 and between the ages of seven and eighteen, 8,039 (1.2 percent) were victims of at least one reported sex crime.

The sexual offenses in question included rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, incest, and indecent exposure. Sexual assault encompassed both intercourse/penetration without consent or engaged in with a youth not old enough to consent (statutory rape).

The study examined numerous disabilities, including ADHD, which was the most common one. It also performed a regression analysis to tease out other covariants, such as parental violence, parental inpatient mental illness, parental suicidal behavior or alcohol abuse, parental long-term unemployment, family separation, and children in public care outside the family.

In the raw data, youths with ADHD were 3.7 times more likely to be a victim of sexual crimes than normally developing youths. That was roughly equal to the odds for youths with an autism spectrum disorder or mental retardation, but considerably higher than for blindness, stuttering, dyslexia, and epilepsy (all roughly twice as likely to be victims of such crimes), and even higher than for the loss of hearing, brain injury, or speech or physical disabilities.

Looking at covariate, family separation, having a teenage mother, or being in public care almost doubled the risk of being a victim of sexual crimes. Parental violence or parental substance abuse increased the risk by 40 percent, and parental unemployment for over 21 weeks increased the risk by 30 percent. Girls were nine times more likely to be victimized than boys. Living in a disadvantaged neighborhood made no difference, and living in immigrant neighborhoods actually reduced the odds of being victimized by about 30 percent.

After adjusting for other risk factors, youths with ADHD were still almost twice as likely to be victims of reported sex crimes than normally developing youths. All other youths with disabilities registered significantly lower levels of risk after adjusting for other risk factors: for those who were blind, 60 percent higher risk; for those with autism, hearing loss, or epilepsy, 40 percent higher risk. Communicative disabilities - speech disability, stuttering, and dyslexia - actually turned out to have protective effects.

This points to a need to be particularly vigilant for signs of sexual abuse among youths with ADHD.

September 28, 2023

Methylphenidate May Help Reduce Risk of Mortality in Youths with ADHD

Methylphenidate is associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality in youths with ADHD in a nationwide population cohort study

Youths with ADHD are at higher risk of suicide, burn injuries, road injuries, and more generally all-cause mortality than normally developing children. Methylphenidate (MPH) is known to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. Can it also reduce the risk of all-cause mortality? A team of Taiwanese researchers, collaborating with two British researchers, explored that question by looking at a nationwide population cohort.

Taiwan has a single-payer national health insurance system that includes the entire population (99.6 percent coverage). Using the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD), the team identified over 183,000 youths under 18 with an ADHD diagnosis. Of these, just over 68,000 had been prescribed to MPH. The team matched them with an equal number of ADHD youths who were not prescribed MPH. All records were anonymized and checked against the National Mortality Register.

All-cause mortality was split into two subcategories. Unnatural-cause mortality consisted of homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle fatalities. Natural-cause mortality encompassed all other premature deaths. In the raw data, ADHD youths on MPH had half the all-cause mortality of those not on MPH. Natural-cause mortality was down about 40 percent and unnatural-cause mortality was by almost two-thirds. In the non-MPH group, 32 committed suicide in the follow-up year, versus only a single individual in the MPH group. There were seven homicide victims in the non-MPH group, versus none at all in the MPH group.

These staggering reductions, however, were almost exclusively among males. The team then adjusted for potential confounding variables - gender, age, residence, insurance premium, out-patient visits, and pre-existing diagnoses. In the adjusted model, the risk for all-cause mortality was still reduced - by about 20 percent - for those on MPH and remained statistically significant. Virtually identical reductions were found for males and for children first diagnosed with ADHD between 4 and 7 years old. But all other risk estimates became statistically non-significant, due in large measure to the rarity of mortality events.

The authors concluded, "This is the first study reporting that a longer interval between first ADHD diagnosis and first prescription of MPH is associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality. In addition, we also found that participants receiving longer-duration MPH treatment had a lower risk of all-cause mortality. ... an implication is that receiving a diagnosis earlier and receiving medication earlier may reduce the risk of later adverse consequences."

They nevertheless cautioned, "although we adjusted for multiple covariant, information lacking in the database precluded the measurement of other possible confounders, such as family history, psychosocial stressors, the effect of behavioral therapy or severity of comorbidities. Therefore, as with all observational data, it is not possible to be conclusive about whether the association with lower mortality is related to an effect of MPH treatment itself or whether other characteristics of the children receiving MPH may account for the lower risk (i.e. confounding by indication).

Finally, although the cohort sizes were large, the number of deaths was small, and this limited statistical power, particularly for the investigation of cause-specific mortality and of subgroup differences. Because of the relatively low number of deaths and limited follow-up duration, longer-term studies with larger samples are warranted ..."

October 30, 2023

Methylphenidate May Reduce Risk of Burn Injury in Children with ADHD

Methylphenidate reduces risk of burn injury in children with ADHD in nationwide population cohort study

Children with ADHD are at higher risk of getting severe burns than normally-developing children. Burn injuries can be traumatic, imposing physical, psychological, and economic burdens on children, their families, and society. Methylphenidate is known to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. Can it also reduce the risk of burn injuries?

A team of Taiwanese researchers collaborating with two British researchers explored that question by looking at a nationwide population cohort. Taiwan has a single-payer national health insurance system that includes the entire population (99.6 percent coverage). Using Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database(NHIRD), they identified over 90,000 youths under 18 years old with a diagnosis of ADHD. Youths who had burned injuries before diagnosis were excluded. ADHD youths were further divided into three groups: those not prescribed methylphenidate (over 22,000), those prescribed methylphenidate for less than 90 days (over 17,500), and those prescribed methylphenidates for 90 days or more(over 50,000).

Because methylphenidate is the only approved stimulant in Taiwan, it was the only stimulant analyzed in this study. Atomoxetine, a non-stimulant, is also approved in Taiwan, but only for those whose, outcomes with methylphenidate are suboptimal. It was only used by 4 percent of those on ADHD medication, and generally after prior use of methylphenidate, so there was no way to evaluate its effectiveness. Among ADHD youths not on methylphenidate, the proportion who got burn injuries was 6.7 percent. That dropped to 4.5 percent for those medicated for under 90 days, and to 2.9 percent for those on longer-term medication.

Calculations indicated that half of all burn injuries could have been prevented if all youths had been on methylphenidate. After adjusting for multiple confounders - seizure, intellectual disability, autism, conduct disorder, opposition defiant disorder, anxiety, depression, and psychotropic use (benzodiazepine, Z-drugs, antipsychotics, and antidepressants) that taking methylphenidate for any length of time was 38 percent less likely to suffer burn injuries. Moreover, longer-term medication had a greater beneficial effect. Those taking methylphenidate for under 90 days were 30 percent less likely to get burn injuries, whereas those taking it for 90 or more days were less than half as likely to get burn injuries as those not on methylphenidate.

The authors emphasized, "This nationwide population-based study has several strengths. First, the nationally representative sample was substantial and minimized selection bias. Second, patients with ADHD were identified through physician-based diagnoses. Third, all MPH [methylphenidate] prescriptions are recorded in the NHIRD, avoiding misclassification bias. Also, by excluding burn injuries before ADHD diagnosis, the reverse causal relationship between ADHD and burn injury was eliminated."

December 6, 2023

Sex Differences in ADHD Symptoms and Related Cognitive Deficits in Youths

Sex Differences in ADHD Symptoms and Related Cognitive Deficits in Youths

To what extent does sex matter in the expression of ADHD symptoms and associated cognitive deficits among youths with ADHD?

A recently published meta-analysis of 54 studies by a Canadian team of researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal suggests it makes little to no difference. A meta-analysis of 26 studies with over 5,900 youths found no significant difference in inattention symptoms, and a meta-analysis of 24 studies with over 5,500 youths likewise found no difference in hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms. Separating out hyperactivity and impulsivity made no difference.

Given these results, it's no surprise that a meta-analysis of 15 studies with over 3,500 youths again found no significant divergence between the sexes for total ADHD symptoms. Parents and teachers differed, however, in their ratings of symptoms. Whereas parents observed no differences, teachers reported boys had slightly more inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors than girls. Turning to cognitive functions, a series of meta-analyses found no significant sex differences for interference control, working memory, and planning scores. But boys performed slightly worse on inhibition and motor response inhibition. While the raw data also showed boys slightly under-performing girls on cognitive flexibility, strong evidence of publication bias made this unreliable.

The team also compared youths with ADHD and youths without ADHD. Both for females and for males, those differences in ADHD symptoms were - as would be expected - extremely large, whether for total symptoms, inattention, or hyperactivity-impulsivity. All cognitive function scores were moderately better for normally developing boys compared with boys with ADHD, and for normally developing girls compared with girls with ADHD. Yet once again, when comparing these effect sizes between girls and boys, there were no significant differences for any of the symptom and cognitive function effects.

"In other words," the authors wrote, "boys and girls with ADHD presented significantly more primary symptoms and executive and attention deficits than did their peers without ADHD, and effect sizes were not significantly different between the sexes." They concluded, "girls with ADHD do not differ from boys with ADHD in many domains of cognitive functioning, and they have significantly more severe difficulties across the executive and attentional functions measured relative to girls without ADHD. This meta-analysis is the first to examine sex differences in cognitive flexibility, working memory, and planning."

December 11, 2023

Stigma: Public attitudes towards children and adults with ADHD

Stigma: Public attitudes towards children and adults with ADHD

To gauge the extent of stigma towards persons with ADHD, a European research team hired a company specialized in market and social research to conduct a poll of some five thousand randomly selected Germans. Just over a thousand completed the interview, representing a response rate of only one in five. The team acknowledged, “Although non-responder bias has to be considered to be important, ethical considerations prohibited the collection of any detailed information on non-respondents.” The sample had slightly more women and elderly persons, and a higher average level of educational attainment relative to the German population as a whole. Sampling weights were used to compensate for these discrepancies.

The poll relied on computer-assisted telephone interviews. Interviews began with prerecorded vignettes of either a 12-year-old child or 35-year-oldadult exhibiting core symptoms of ADHD (such as “careless mistakes in schoolwork,” “does not follow through on instructions,” “easily distracted by extraneous stimuli”, “loses things”, “leaves his place in the classroom or when sitting at the dining table”). Half of those interviewed were presented with child vignettes, and half with adult vignettes. The gender of the person described varied randomly.

On a scale of one to five, respondents were asked to indicate levels of agreement with two statements: 1. ‘‘Basically, we are all sometimes like this person. It’s just a question of how pronounced this state is.’’ 2. “All in all, the problems of Robert / Anne are abnormal.” For both child and adult vignettes, two out of three respondents agreed that “we are all sometimes like this person.” One in three respondents considered the problems depicted in the child vignettes as abnormal. That dropped to one in four in the adult vignettes.

Next, respondents were asked whether they ever had a problem like this, and whether someone among their family or close friends ever had to deal with such a problem. For both vignettes, one in four acknowledged having had a problem like this, and half said a close friend or family member had such a problem.

On the assumption that “negative emotional reactions are an important consequence of negative stereotypes, leading to separation, discrimination and status loss,” respondents were probed for their specific emotional reactions. “I feel annoyed,” “I react angrily,” and “provokes my incomprehension” were interpreted as indicating varying levels of anger.“Provokes fear” and “Makes me feel insecure” were seen as indicating fear. “I feel uncomfortable” was viewed as indicating somewhere between fear and anger. On the other hand, “I feel the need to help,” “I feel pity,” and “I feel sympathy” were interpreted as “pro-social” responses.

Pro-social reactions were by far the most common. Over two-thirds felt a need to help a child, and over half to help an adult, in such a situation. In both instances, almost half felt sympathy, and a half or more felt pity. On the other hand, a quarter of respondents in each case felt annoyed, and just under one in five felt uncomfortable. Almost one in seven reacted angrily to the child vignette, and almost one in six to the adult vignette. Fear was the least frequent emotional reaction.

In the case of adults, respondents were also asked about their willingness to accept the person described in the vignette in seven social situations:

·        Working together
·        As a neighbor
·        Marrying into the family
·        Introducing to a friend
·        Renting a room
·        Recommending for a job
old adult·        Taking care of chi

While three out of four respondents were willing to accept such persons as co-workers, only one in three would recommend them for a job. Two out of three would accept such persons as neighbors, and almost as many to marry into the family. Three out of five would very willingly introduce such persons to friends. Slightly over half would rent a room to them. But less than one in three would be willing to have such individuals take care of their own children.

Older respondents were more likely to see the problems as“abnormal” and to seek greater social distance. Women, and respondents with higher levels of education, were less likely to see the problems as abnormal and more likely to respond in pro-social ways.

Though showing most Germans to be accepting of persons with ADHD, these findings still indicate a significant degree of stigma, though less than for other psychiatric conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, or alcohol dependence.

August 27, 2021

Is Prenatal Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) Associated with Childhood ADHD?

Is prenatal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) associated with childhood ADHD?

A team of U.S. endocrinologists recently published the results of a meta-analysis examining a possible association between bisphenol A(BPA) and childhood ADHD. BPA is used in a variety of consumer products, including plastic bottles for food and drink, epoxy resins used to line cans of food, dental sealants, and the thermal receipts issued by stores.
A review of the literature found 29 rodent studies, but only three with humans. The human studies were too different from each other to be suitable for meta-analysis. One found no association between prenatal exposure and ADHD. A second found prenatal BPA exposure to be associated with teacher-reported hyperactivity in 4-year-old boys, but not girls. The third found is to be associated with hyperactivity scores in 3-year-old girls.
As the authors note, "Often, there is little human data available, particularly in the environmental toxicology/health fields, due to the time and expense of conducting epidemiological studies and the ethical barriers for human-controlled trials that involve human exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals. Thus, it is important to have methods for using animal data to inform human health hazard conclusions; indeed, animal models are traditionally used to study human health."
Twelve of the mice and rat studies, with a total of 709 rodents, were suitable for meta-analysis.
Overall these pointed to a tiny SMD effect size of 0.09, but it was not significant, with the odds of such a result being obtained by chance being almost one in four (p = 0.237). But when results from the 356 males and353 females were looked at separately, a significant sex difference emerged. There was essentially no effect on female rodents, with an effect size of -0.07and a 95% confidence interval of -0.27 to 0.14, widely spanning the zero mark, rendering the result statistically non-significant. Among male rodents, however, there was a small but statistically significant effect size (0.24), with a 95%confidence interval from 0.04 to 0.45. The odds of obtaining this outcome by chance were only one in 50 (p = .02).
This result must be viewed with caution, as rodent physiology often differs substantially from that of humans. The authors, therefore, conclude, "early BPA exposure is associated with a presumed hazard of hyperactivity in humans. Our conclusion is based on 'moderate' levels of evidence for the human and 'high' levels of evidence for animal literature."

June 26, 2021

Screening, Diagnosing and Managing ADHD in Children with Epilepsy

Guidelines for screening, diagnosing, and managing ADHD in children with epilepsy

A working group of the International League Against Epilepsy(ILAE), consisting of twenty experts spanning the globe (U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, India, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil), recently published "consensus paper" summarizing and evaluating what is currently known about comorbid epilepsy with ADHD, and best practices.

ADHD is two to five times more prevalent among children with epilepsy. The authors suggest that ADHD is underdiagnosed in children with epilepsy because its symptoms are often attributed either to epilepsy itself or to the effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

The working group did a systematic search of the English-language research literature. It then reached a consensus on practice recommendations, graded on the strength of the evidence.

Three recommendations were graded A, indicating they are well-established by evidence:
·        Children with epilepsy with comorbid intellectual and developmental disabilities are at increased risk of ADHD.
·        There is no increased risk of ADHD in boys with epilepsy compared to girls with epilepsy.
·        The anticonvulsant valproate can exacerbate attentional issues in children with childhood absence epilepsy (absence seizures look like staring spells during which the child is not aware or responsive). Moreover, a single high-quality population-based study indicates that valproate use during pregnancy is associated with inattentiveness and hyperactivity in offspring.

Four more were graded B, meaning they are probably useful/predictive:
·        Poor seizure control is associated with an increased risk of ADHD.
·        Data support the ability of the Strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) to predict ADHD diagnosis in children with epilepsy: "Borderline or abnormal SDQ total scores are highly correlated with the presence of a validated psychiatric diagnosis (93.6%), of which ADHD is the most common (31.7%)." The SDQ can therefore be useful as a screening tool.
·        Evidence supports the efficacy of methylphenidate in children with epilepsy and comorbid ADHD.
·        Methylphenidate is tolerated in children with epilepsy.

At the C level of being possibly useful, there is limited evidence that supports that atomoxetine is tolerated in children with ADHD and epilepsy and that the combined use of drugs for ADHD and epilepsy (polytherapy) is more likely to be associated with behavioral problems than monotherapy. In the latter instance, "Studies are needed to elucidate whether the polytherapy itself has resulted in the behavioral problems, or the combination of polytherapy and the underlying brain problem reflects difficult-to-control epilepsy, which, in turn, has resulted in the prescription of polytherapy."

All other recommendations were graded U (for Unproven), "Data inadequate or conflicting; treatment, test or predictor unproven." These included three where the evidence is ambiguous or insufficient:
·        Evidence is conflicted on the impact of early seizure onset on the development of ADHD in children with epilepsy.
·        Tolerability for amphetamine in children with epilepsy is not defined.
·        Limited evidence exists for the efficacy of atomoxetine and amphetamines in children with epilepsy and ADHD.

There were also nine U-graded recommendations based solely on expert opinion. Most notable among these:
·        Screening of children with epilepsy for ADHD beginning at age 6.
·        Reevaluation of attention function after any change in antiepileptic drug.
·        Screening should not be done within 48 hours following a seizure.
·        ADHD should be distinguished from childhood absence epilepsy based on history and an EEG with hyperventilation.
·        Multidisciplinary involvement in transition and adult ADHD clinics is essential as many patients experience challenges with housing, employment, relationships, and psychosocial wellbeing.

June 14, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About ADHD

Everything You Need to Know About ADHD

You've heard all sorts of misinformation about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), whether from friends, the internet, or uninformed press articles:

"ADHD is not real."

"Pharmaceutical companies invented ADHD to make money."

"I'm just a little ADD."

"Natural solutions are the best for ADHD treatment."

ADHD symptoms were first described in the late 1700s, primarily among hyperactive boys. It was described variously over 200 years as "fidgeting," "defects of moral control," "hyperkinetic reaction," "minimal brain damage" and eventually ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in the 1980s and ADHD today.

Because the natural tendency toward hyperactivity decreased with age, ADHD was originally thought to be a developmental disorder that disappeared in mid-to-late adolescence. When medicines were developed and used in ADHD treatment for young boys, physicians stopped prescribing them around mid-adolescence, because it was presumed the condition had been remediated. They were wrong. We know now that ADHD persists into adulthood for about two-thirds of ADHD youth.

ADHD was not widely recognized in girls until the mid-1990s when it became clear that girls with ADHD were less disruptive than boys with ADHD and were not being appropriately diagnosed. Girls with ADHD show less of the physical hyperactivity of boys, but suffer from "dreaminess," "lack of focus" and "lack of follow-through."

It was also in the 1990s that ADHD' pervasive comorbidity with depression, anxiety, mood, and autism spectrum disorders was established. At the same time, researchers were beginning to describe deficits in executive functioning and emotional dysregulation that became targets of substantial research in the 21st century.

Even with the 1990s recognition that ADHD is a lifetime disorder, equally present (in different forms) in both men and women, medical schools and continuing medical education courses (required for realizing sure of health professionals) have only begun to teach the most up-to-date evidence-based knowledge to the medical community. There still is much misinformation and a lack of knowledge among primary care professionals and the public.

ADHD Throughout the Lifespan
Most cases of ADHD start in Otero before the child is born. As a fetus, the future ADHD person carries versions of genes that increase the risk for the disorder. At the same time, they are exposed to toxic environments. These genetic and environmental risks change the developing brain, setting the foundation for the future emergence of ADHD.

In preschool, early signs of ADHD are seen in emotional lability, hyperactivity, disinhibited behavior and speech, and language and coordination problems. The full-blown ADHD syndrome typically occurs in early childhood, but can be delayed until adolescence. In some cases, the future ADHD person is temporarily protected from the emergence of ADHD due to factors such as high intelligence or especially supportive family and/or school environments. But, as the challenges of life increase, this social, emotional, and intellectual scaffolding is no longer sufficient to control the emergence of disabling ADHD symptoms.

Throughout childhood and adolescence, the emergence and persistence of the disorder are regulated by additional environmental risk factors such as family chaos, as well as the age-dependent expression of risk genes that exert different effects at different stages of development. During adolescence, most cases of ADHD persist and by the teenage years, many youths with ADHD have onset with a mood, anxiety, or substance use disorder. Indeed, parents and clinicians need to monitor ADHD youth for early signs of these disorders. Prompt treatment can prevent years of distress and disability.

By adulthood, the number of comorbid conditions increases, including obesity, which likely impacts future medical outcomes. Emerging data shows people with ADHD to be at increased risk for hypertension and diabetes. ADHD adults tend to be very inattentive but show fewer symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. They remain at risk for substance abuse, low self-esteem, injuries due to accidents, occupational failure, and social disability, especially if they are not treated for the disorder.

Seven Important Concepts About ADHD


There are approximately 10 million U.S. adults with ADHD, 9 million of whom are undiagnosed. But with diligent research by the medical profession, we have learned seven important concepts about ADHD:
1.    ADHD has been documented worldwide in 5% of the population.
2.    Sixty-seven percent of ADHD children grow into ADHD adults and seniors. ADHD is heritable, runs in families, and is impacted by the physical environment and familial lifestyle.
3.    In youth, rates of ADHD are higher in males than females as males, but these rates even out by adulthood.
4.    ADHD coexists and is often masked by several other disorders: anxiety, depression, spectrum bipolar and autism disorder, substance abuse, alcoholism, obesity, risky behaviors, disorganized lives, working memory deficits, and significant executive dysfunctions that affect personal, social, and work success.
5.    ADHD medications(stimulants and non-stimulants) are the most effective treatments for ADHD symptoms. Psychological support/training designed for ADHD, and lifestyle modifications, are important adjuncts to medicine.
6.    ADHD costs the U.S. economy more than $100 million annually in lost productivity, accidents, hospitalizations with comorbidities, and family and professional support for ADHD patients.
7.    ADHD is diagnosable and safely treatable in trained primary care practices.

How do you know if you or someone you love has ADHD? Evaluate your life against the seven concepts above. Then get screened and diagnosed by a health care professional. The diagnosis of ADHD should be done only by a licensed clinician who has been trained in ADHD. That clinician should have one goal in mind: to plan a safe and effective course of evidence-based treatment.

When diagnosing adults, it is also useful to collect information from a significant other, which can be a parent for young adults or a spouse for older adults. But when such individuals are not available, diagnosing ADHD based on the patient's self-report is valid. Just remember that personal, work, and family lives are improved with treatment. Research and technology related to ADHD improve all the time.

ADHD in Adults is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about ADHD, with evidence-based information and education for both healthcare professionals and the public. The website also features a new ADHD screener for predicting the presence of ADHD in adults.

Stephen V. Faraone, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience & Physiology at SUNY Update Medical University and a global expert on Adult ADHD.

March 12, 2021

Stigma: Public attitudes towards children and adults with ADHD

Stigma: Public attitudes towards children and adults with ADHD

To gauge the extent of stigma towards persons with ADHD, a European research team hired a company specialized in market and social research to conduct a poll of some five thousand randomly selected Germans. Just over a thousand completed the interview, representing a response rate of only one in five. The team acknowledged, "Although non-responder bias has to be considered to be important, ethical considerations prohibited the collection of any detailed information on non-respondents." The sample had slightly more women and elderly persons, and a higher average level of educational attainment relative to the German population as a whole. Sampling weights we reused to compensate for these discrepancies.

The poll relied on computer-assisted telephone interviews. Interviews began with prerecorded vignettes of either an a12-year-old child or a 35-year-old adult exhibiting core symptoms of ADHD (such as "careless mistakes in schoolwork," "does not follow through on instructions," easily distracted by extraneous stimuli, "loses things", "leaves his place in the classroom or when sitting at the dining table"). Half of those interviewed were presented with child vignettes and half with adult vignettes. The gender of the person described varied randomly.

On a scale of one to five, respondents were asked to indicate levels of agreement with two statements: 1. "Basically, we are all sometimes like this person. It's just a question of how pronounced this state is." 2. "All in all, the problems of Robert / Anne are abnormal." For both child and adult vignettes, two out of three respondents agreed that "we are all sometimes like this person." One in three respondents considered the problems depicted in the child vignettes as abnormal. That dropped to one in four in the adult vignettes.

Next, respondents were asked whether they ever had a problem like this and whether someone among their family or close friends ever had to deal with such a problem. For both vignettes, one in four acknowledged having had a problem like this, and half said a close friend or family member had such a problem.

On the assumption that "negative emotional reactions are an important consequence of negative stereotypes, leading to separation, discrimination and status loss," respondents were probed for their specific emotional reactions. "I feel annoyed," " react angrily," and" provokes my incomprehension" were interpreted as indicating varying levels of anger. "Provokes fear" and "Makes me feel insecure" were seen as indicating fear. "I feel uncomfortable" was viewed as indicating somewhere between fear and anger. On the other hand, "I feel the need to help," "I feel pity," and "I feel sympathy" were interpreted as "pro-social" responses.

Pro-social reactions were by far the most common. Over two-thirds felt a need to help a child, and over half to help an adult, in such a situation. In both instances, almost half felt sympathy, and a half or more felt pity. On the other hand, a quarter of respondents in each case felt annoyed, and just under one in five felt uncomfortable. Almost one in seven reacted angrily to the child vignette, and almost one in six to the adult vignette. Fear was the least frequent emotional reaction.

In the case of adults, respondents were also asked about their willingness to accept the person described in the vignette in seven social situations:

·      Working together
·      As a neighbor
·      Marrying into the family
·      Introducing to a friend
·      Renting a room
·      Recommending for a job
·      Taking care of children

While three out of four respondents were willing to accept such persons as co-workers, only one in three would recommend them for a job. Two out of three would accept such persons as neighbors, and almost as many to marry into the family. Three out of five would very willingly introduce such persons to friends. Slightly over half would rent a room to them. But less than one in three would be willing to have such individuals take care of their children.

Older respondents were more likely to see the problems as "abnormal" and to seek greater social distance. Women, and respondents with higher levels of education, were less likely to see the problems as abnormal and more likely to respond in pro-social ways.

Though showing most Germans to be accepting of persons with ADHD, these findings still indicate a significant degree of stigma, though less than for other psychiatric conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, or alcohol dependence.

March 10, 2021