Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children (ADHD in Children or Childhood ADHD)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

Quick GuideADHD Symptoms in Children

ADHD Symptoms in Children

What are complications and the prognosis of ADHD in children?

Current estimates are that 85% of children receiving the diagnosis of ADHD are at risk for having the disorder in some form as an adult. About one-third of those children may seem to grow out of it; however, that does not occur for all symptoms. The remaining two-thirds of children with ADHD continue to have most symptoms, but those symptoms may look differently in adulthood than in childhood. An example of that is the toddler, preschooler, or older child who has more trouble sitting compared to other children of the same age and gender still may grow up into an adult who gets bored easily. While there have been some well-founded concerns raised about the significant increase in how often ADHD is diagnosed, particularly in boys, treatment for children who truly qualify for the diagnosis is important in preventing the complications of this disorder in both childhood and adulthood.

The lives of children with ADHD may be complicated by frequently getting in trouble and difficulty making and keeping friends since they can't focus, as well as due to having a lack of restraint, a tendency toward excitability and engaging in impulsive aggression. If untreated, these challenges can lead to school problems, social isolation, and tumultuous relationships with family members.

Adults with ADHD may also develop significant co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and life problems, such as obesity, borderline personality problems, legal problems, substance abuse, and a significant risk for having depression and anxiety disorders. Fortunately, children who receive treatment for this condition tend to be less likely to develop many of the complications associated with ADHD.

Is it possible to prevent ADHD in children?

Studies indicate that breastfeeding up to 6 months of age may help protect individuals from developing ADHD. As environmental and social insults like maternal drug use and exposure to community violence, medical, and emotional issues are risk factors for developing ADHD, prevention or treatment of those issues can help prevent or decrease the severity of this condition.

What is the latest research on ADHD in children?

Much of the latest research on ADHD in children focuses on how exposure to environmental toxins may increase the risk of developing this condition. For example, studies indicate that exposure to fluoride, lead, and other chemicals can increase the likelihood that a child develops ADHD. Also, research indicates that mothers who use acetaminophen (Tylenol) during pregnancy may be at higher risk of having a child with ADHD, particularly with more frequent use and during more than one trimester of the pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/2/2016

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