Study finds ADHD and trauma often go hand in hand

May 6, 2014, American Academy of Pediatrics
Children with ADHD find it more difficult to focus and to complete their schoolwork. Credit: public domain image

When children struggle with focusing on tasks, staying organized, controlling their behavior and sitting still, they may be evaluated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clinicians, however, shouldn't stop there, according to a study to be presented Tuesday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Researchers found that many children with ADHD also face challenges such as poverty, divorce, neighborhood violence and substance abuse among family members.

"Our findings suggest that children with ADHD experience significantly higher rates of trauma than those without ADHD," said lead author Nicole M. Brown, MD, MPH, MHS, FAAP. "Providers may focus on ADHD as the primary diagnosis and overlook the possible presence of a trauma history, which may impact treatment."

Dr. Brown and her colleagues analyzed data from the 2011 National Survey of Children's Health. They identified 65,680 children ages 6-17 years whose parents answered questions regarding ADHD diagnosis, severity and medication use as well as nine adverse (ACEs): poverty, divorce, death of a parent/guardian, domestic violence, neighborhood violence, , incarceration, familial mental illness and discrimination.

About 12 percent of the children were diagnosed with ADHD. Their parents reported a higher prevalence of all of the adverse events than parents of children without ADHD.

Parents of children with ADHD also reported a higher number of adverse childhood experiences compared to children without ADHD; 17 percent of children with ADHD had four or more ACEs compared to 6 percent of children without ADHD.

Children dealing with four or more adverse experiences were almost three times more likely to use ADHD medications compared to children with three or fewer adverse experiences. Children with four or more adverse experiences also were more likely to have a parent rate their ADHD as moderate to severe compared to children with three or fewer ACEs.

"Knowledge about the prevalence and types of among children diagnosed with ADHD may guide efforts to address trauma in this population and improve ADHD screening, diagnostic accuracy and management," said Dr. Brown, assistant professor of pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

"Pediatric providers should consider screening for adverse childhood experiences in children who they suspect may have ADHD and/or those who carry the diagnosis, and initiate evidence-based treatment/intervention plans for who screen positive for ACEs," she concluded.

Explore further: CDC: More than one in 10 kids diagnosed with ADHD

More information: Dr. Brown will present "Associations Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and ADHD: Analysis of the 2011 National Survey of Children's Health" from 1:45-2 p.m. Tuesday, May 6. To view the study abstract, go to www.abstracts2view.com/pas/vie … hp?nu=PAS14L1_4670.7

Related Stories

CDC: More than one in 10 kids diagnosed with ADHD

November 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—More than one in 10 children and adolescents are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), an increase of 42 percent in less than a decade, according to a study published online Nov. 25 ...

Continued increases in ADHD diagnoses and treatment with medication among US children

November 22, 2013
A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) found that an estimated two million more children in the United States (U.S.) have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity ...

Can breastfeeding protect against ADHD?

May 14, 2013
Breastfeeding has a positive impact on the physical and mental development of infants. A new study suggests that breastfeeding may protect against the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in ...

Language problems common for kids with ADHD, study finds

April 21, 2014
(HealthDay)—Children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are nearly three times more likely to have language problems than kids without ADHD, according to new research.

Summer Treatment Program helps children with ADHD benefit from sports, research shows

March 28, 2014
A summer program at FIU is proving that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can excel in team sports and benefit from the experience.

Thirty percent of adults with ADD report childhood physical abuse

March 6, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Thirty percent of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) report they were physically abused before they turned 18. This compares to seven per cent ...

Recommended for you

Siblings of children with autism or ADHD are at elevated risk for both disorders

December 10, 2018
Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study led by Meghan Miller, assistant professor in the ...

Children who start school a year early more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, study shows

November 28, 2018
Could a child's birthday put them at risk for an ADHD misdiagnosis? The answer appears to be yes, at least among children born in August who start school in states with a Sept. 1 cutoff enrollment date, according to a new ...

Newly mapped genes may hold keys to ADHD

November 26, 2018
Millions of American kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a genetic vulnerability to the disease, a new study suggests.

Global study finds youngest in class more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD

October 15, 2018
A new global study involving the University of Adelaide has found that children who are the youngest in their classroom are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than their older ...

Much still unclear about relationship between screen media use and ADHD in children

October 5, 2018
There is a statistically small relationship between children's screen media use and ADHD-related behaviours. This is the finding of an extensive literature review on this subject carried out by researchers from the UvA's ...

Brain scans reveal common patterns can predict variations in ADHD

September 24, 2018
Distinct brain patterns can help explain variations in the way children present with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), paving a course towards improved treatment and support for the common neurodevelopmental ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
1 / 5 (1) May 06, 2014
So having children in traditional stable family, 1 mother + 1 father, reduces the rate of ADHD....I could have told you that.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.