01 May ADHD Less Common in Girls, But Has More Serious Consequences
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Jill Pell MD
Director of Institute (Institute of Health and Wellbeing)
Associate (School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing)
University of Glasgow
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The novelty of our study lies in its scale and scope. In terms of scope, it reported on six educational outcomes and three health outcomes in the same group of children.
In terms of scale, it is the first study of a whole country to compare educational outcomes of children with treated ADHD with their unaffected peers and is more than 20 times larger than previous studies on similar educational outcomes. The only previous countrywide study on health outcomes, included only children with very severe ADHD who were in psychiatric hospitals.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our study demonstrated that ADHD impacts on the full range of educational outcomes. Children with ADHD took more unauthorised absences from school, were more likely to be excluded, were at higher risk of having special educational need, performed more poorly in examinations, left school at an earlier age, and were more likely to be unemployed after leaving school. They were also more likely to need admission to hospital; commonly due to unintentional injury.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: One of the most interesting findings was the difference between boys and girls. Fewer girls are treated for ADHD, but when girls are diagnosed they fare worse than boys with ADHD. Having ADHD had a bigger effect on girls, than boys, in terms of having special educational needs, being excluded from school, doing worse in exams, being unemployed and needing to be admitted to hospital.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Early recognition of the problem will help to ensure that appropriate interventions are put in place. In addition to healthcare interventions, whether behavioural or medication, children with ADHD need support from the education system. A group that merits further attention is girls with ADHD. Boys with ADHD are more likely to be hyperactive so are more easily identified as having a problem and are more to get the interventions they need. In contrast, girls with ADHD are more likely to be inattentive so their diagnosis is more likely to be overlooked and they are less likely to get treatment and support. They also tend to cope less well and are more prone to depression and anxiety. Our study shows that they have poorer education and health outcomes that boys with ADHD and we need to be more vigilant in identifying and helping girls with ADHD.
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Fleming M, Fitton CA, Steiner MFC, McLay JS, Clark D, King A, Mackay DF, Pell JP. Educational and Health Outcomes of Children Treated for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. JAMA Pediatr. Published online May 01, 2017e170691. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0691
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