A new study has found the effects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can extend beyond childhood and can co-exist with other psychiatric conditions.
“In the largest study of its kind, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Mayo Clinic found that close to a third of children with ADHD — 29.3% — still have the disorder as adults, along with an increased rate of other psychiatric problems. “We have trivialized this condition,” says lead author Dr. William Barbaresi. “We need to recognize that this is a chronic health problem that often persists into adulthood.”
“Previous estimates of the rate at which ADHD persists into adulthood had ranged widely, from 6% to 66%, but those studies relied on small groups of children. Barbaresi and his colleagues identified 379 cases of ADHD in the 5,718 children born during a six-year period from 1976 to 1982 in Rochester, Minn. Between 7% to 9% of the Rochester kids developed ADHD, which is consistent with current national estimates of 7.5%. Decades later, they were able to track down and enlist 62% of those now-adults — 232 people — to participate in the research.
“Of the third who still had ADHD at age 27, 81% had at least one additional psychiatric disorder and 47% of those who no longer had ADHD had at least one other psychiatric diagnosis, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics. The findings suggest that ADHD may frequently occur with other mental health disorders, and may serve as a marker for these condition. “That group with ADHD is at highest risk for having additional mental health problems,” says Barbaresi, who is director of the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “We have to stop trivializing ADHD as just another childhood behavior problem. The nature and duration of this study show we have to recognize it as a chronic serious health problem that deserves a lot more attention than it has received.”
Researchers also found some other scary data from the study:
Researchers say insurance companies won’t authorize the comprehensive tests needed to detect and treat these conditions. In contrast, if someone has diabetes the insurance companies will authorize tests for comorbid conditions.
If you had ADHD as a child do you still see symptoms as an adult? Do you see other learning disabilities or psychiatric conditions in your children with ADHD? Did your insurance company authorize enough testing to get to the bottom of things?