ADHD Often Linked to Other Mental Health Disorders

Steady functional decline with increasing number of comorbidities seen

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have other mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions, and their social and educational functions worsen with more comorbidities, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Kandyce Larson, Ph.D., of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the patterns of comorbidity, functioning, and service use for 5,028 children with ADHD. They performed a cross-sectional analysis using data from the U.S. 2007 National Survey of Children's Health.

The researchers found a parent-reported prevalence of ADHD of 8.2 percent. Children with ADHD were significantly more likely to have a learning disability, conduct disorder, anxiety, depression, and speech problems compared to children without ADHD. Children with ADHD were also more likely to have difficulty in school and socially. They also had higher odds of having poor parent-child communication and higher levels of parent aggravation. Most children with ADHD had at least one comorbidity, and poor children were 3.8 times more likely to have three or more comorbidities than well-off children. As the number of comorbidities increased, the children's function declined and the use of health and educational services increased.

"Professionals and parents need to be aware of the high prevalence of mental health/neurodevelopmental comorbidities among school-aged children with ADHD in the United States. Patterns of worsening function with increasing numbers of comorbidities reflect the challenge of meeting the needs of children with complex clinical pictures within the current system of care," the authors write.

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