ADHD-Related Impairment in Girls Persists Into Adulthood

Girls with ADHD exhibit continuing problems in multiple domains; increased risk of self-harm
ADHD-Related Impairment in Girls Persists Into Adulthood

FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For girls who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood, impairment is maintained through early adulthood in various domains, including an increased risk for self-harm, according to a study published online Aug. 13 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., from the University of California in Berkeley, and colleagues conducted a 10-year follow-up of a sample of 140 girls with childhood-diagnosed (6 to 12 years) ADHD (combined type [ADHD-C], 93 girls; inattentive type [ADHD-I], 47 girls); the girls were compared with 88 matched controls.

The researchers found that, compared with controls, girls with childhood-diagnosed ADHD continued to exhibit higher rates of ADHD and related comorbidity, showed more serious global and specific impairment, and had increased rates of suicide attempts and self-injury. The effect sizes ranged from medium to very large. There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to eating pathology, substance use, or driving behavior. The only significant difference noted between ADHD-C and ADHD-I types was in suicide attempts and self-injury, which were highly concentrated in ADHD-C. Even after adjustment for crucial childhood covariates, the association persisted for domains of externalizing behavior, global impairment, service utilization, and self-harm.

"Our findings argue for the clinical impact of ADHD in female samples, the public health importance of this condition in girls and women, and the need for ongoing examination of underlying mechanisms, especially regarding the high risk of self-harm by young adulthood," the authors write.

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