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Childhood ADHD may precipitate struggles in adulthood

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 30 2012 10:00 a.m. MDT

Childhood ADHD may precipitate struggles in adulthood.

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Men in their forties, who were diagnosed with ADHD in their boyhood years, were shown to have lower income, less education, increased risks for divorce, jail time and substance abuse in comparison to their peers without ADHD, according to a study conducted by Rachel Klein of the Child Study Center at New York University Langone Medical Center and her colleagues.

While the effect of ADHD can linger into adulthood, it doesn’t have to be either inevitable or debilitating, Klein told Time. “It does affect their lives, but not to the point that they’re very badly off,” Klein said.

In what USA Today calls the "longest follow-up study to date," researchers compared 135 middle-aged men with childhood ADHD to 136 men without ADHD. Their 33-year follow-up study showed that those with ADHD as children earned about $40,000 less in salary than the other men. Nearly 85 percent were holding jobs, but were holding lower positions with lower income than their peers without the disorder. Those with ADHD had about 2.5 fewer years of education, but only 3.7 percent higher degrees, compared to their unaffected counterparts, Time reported.

The researchers note since only white men of average intelligence were included, the findings can't be generalized to ethnic and social groups or women, CBS News reported.

Previous studies suggest that children appropriately treated for ADHD fare better in society than those without it, so the study did not look at whether negative outcomes could have been prevented if individuals stayed on treatment, ABC News reported.

"I think that what happens is that kids are diagnosed and treated while in childhood, while their parents have responsibility for it," Dr. Steven Safren, director of behavioral medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told HealthDay. "Unfortunately, there's not a lot of focus on treatments for adults with ADHD."

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate of Brigham Young University. Contact her at rachel.lowry@gmail.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.

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