Study finds ADHD and trauma often go hand in hand

May 6, 2014
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

ADHD medication tied to lower risk for alcohol, drug abuse in teens and adults

July 13, 2017
The use of medication to treat attention deficient hyperactivity disorder is linked to significantly lower risk for substance use problems in adolescents and adults with ADHD, according to a study led by researchers at Indiana ...

Video game promotes better attention skills in some children with sensory processing dysfunction

April 6, 2017
A video game under development as a medical device boosts attention in some children with sensory processing dysfunction, or SPD, a condition that can make the sound of a vacuum, or contact with a clothing tag intolerable ...

Children with ADHD often live in chaotic households

March 9, 2017
Researchers often observe inadequate parenting, a negative emotional climate and household chaos in families of children with ADHD. A research group at Goethe University Frankfurt and the universities of Bremen, Heidelberg, ...

ADHD a 'brain disorder', not just bad behaviour: study

February 16, 2017
People with ADHD have slightly smaller brains than those without the condition, according to a study released Thursday which insisted it is a physical disorder and not just bad behaviour.

Could the 'Mediterranean' diet help prevent ADHD?

January 30, 2017
(HealthDay)—Kids who follow a Mediterranean diet—high in fruits, vegetables and "good" fats—may be less likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a small study suggests.

Data scientists find causal relation in characteristics of ADHD

December 2, 2016
Hyperactivity seems to be the result of not being able to focus one's attention rather than the other way around. This was proposed in an article in PLOS ONE, written by researchers at Radboud university medical center and ...

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.