After-school programs a blessing for kids with ADHD

May 8, 2018 by Maureen Salamon, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—After-school activities might be just what the doctor ordered for kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers suggest.

After analyzing records on more than 4,000 children with ADHD, the investigators found that nearly 72 percent of them took part in one or more after-school activities. And if they did, they missed fewer days of school and had less severe symptoms of the disorder.

"Anecdotally, we've heard that having a diagnosis of ADHD can sometimes be a deterrent for participating in after-school activity programs," explained study co-author Dr. Nicole Brown. She's a pediatrician at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.

"So, I was surprised to see that high prevalence of participation" among children with ADHD, Brown added. "I thought it would be lower, and it's encouraging that it's that high."

A syndrome affecting more than 11 million Americans, ADHD is marked by problems with restlessness, paying attention and controlling impulses, according to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. The condition is typically diagnosed among children in grade school, and medications and/or behavioral therapy are popular treatment options.

Prior research found that children with ADHD are at higher risk for missing school more often, and disruptive school behaviors. The new research set out to determine not only how many kids with ADHD take part in after-school activities, but also the link between doing so and the number of missed school days and calls home from school.

Brown and her colleagues identified 4,185 children aged 5 to 17 with ADHD. Their parents had also reported the severity of their child's condition; the number of school days missed in the prior 12 months due to illness or injury; and the number of calls home from school for a problem in the prior year.

The analysis showed that children with ADHD who participated in after-school activities had nearly 40 percent lower odds of parents reporting them having a moderate or severe case. Additionally, after-school activity participation was also associated with 60 percent lower odds of missing seven or more school days in a year. But the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

No significant associations were found between taking part in after-school activities and receiving calls home from school.

Study co-author Dr. Yonit Lax, a pediatrician at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, said her team has several ideas why the results indicated kids with ADHD benefit from after-school activities. Prior research has established that increased physical activity and less screen time among these children are both linked to less severe cases, she said.

"Looking at those two factors, it really reinforces what we're thinking—that those placed in a more structured environment, outside screen time, have lower odds of moderate or severe ADHD," Lax said.

Dr. Daniel Glasstetter Jr. is a pediatrician at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del. He said he was encouraged by the finding that more than seven in 10 children with ADHD took part in after-school programs.

"Intuitively, to me, that seems like a high number, which is good," he said. "But not having a comparison to a control group [of children without ADHD], I'm not sure that's higher or lower than what the student population would be doing."

Glasstetter added that more research is needed to determine why after-school programs would lessen the likelihood of moderate or severe cases of ADHD.

Lax said she hoped the research would encourage pediatricians to consider promoting after-school activities to parents as part of a larger strategy to benefit children with ADHD.

"It's part of our clinical toolbox when thinking of treating the whole patient," she said.

Brown said the findings suggest that strategies to treat ADHD shouldn't just consist of medication and behavioral therapy.

"There are a lot of other resources in the community that can potentially lower symptom severity and improve outcome," she said. "This is one potential strategy to think of at a community level."

The study was presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Toronto. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Current tobacco smoke exposure doesn't obstruct peds airflow

More information: Nicole Brown, M.D., pediatrician, Children's Hospital at Montefiore, New York City; Yonit Lax, M.D., pediatrician, Maimonides Medical Center, New York City; Daniel S. Glasstetter Jr., M.D., pediatrician, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.; May 5, 2018, presentation, Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, Toronto, More Information

The American Psychiatric Association offers more on ADHD.

Related Stories

Current tobacco smoke exposure doesn't obstruct peds airflow

March 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Current tobacco smoke exposure (TSE) is not associated with airflow obstruction among school-aged children, while prenatal smoking is associated with airflow obstruction in children with asthma, according to ...

Preconception paternal SSRI use linked to ADHD in offspring

December 11, 2017
(HealthDay)—Paternal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) before conception is associated with increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring, according to a study published ...

Prenatal exposure to ADHD meds tied to neonatal morbidity

November 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Exposure to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of neonatal morbidity, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in Pediatrics.

Young people with ADHD 'more likely' to come from deprived neighbourhoods

April 6, 2018
Children and young adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are twice as likely to come from the most socio-economically deprived neighbourhoods in England than the least deprived, new research ...

Vitamin E in early childhood tied to lower ALT levels later

November 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—Higher early childhood intake of alpha-tocopherol is associated with lower odds of elevated mid-childhood alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, according to a study published online Nov. 9 in Hepatology.

Risk of secondary ADHD higher after childhood TBI

March 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Children with early childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) have increased risk of secondary attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (SADHD), according to a study published online March 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

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 ...


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.