A study carried out in Australia has found that adolescents that have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder very early on in their childhood will suffer from a higher risk of other mental health issues later on in life.
The study was carried out by Dr. Emma Sciberras of Deakin University, and her team. Their research took place over three years, and they followed the development of 391 children, 179 of which were diagnosed with ADHD. Their goal was to develop a more accurate narrative for the children that receive an early diagnosis. Additionally, they wanted to determine whether or not signs of risk or protection could be found when studying the early developmental stages.
They found that children who were diagnosed earlier in life (age 7) were likely to hold onto that diagnosis throughout their childhood and carry the same diagnosis when they were 10. The diagnosis carries a slew of additional issues that these children will face in the academic sense. Adolescents with the early diagnosis consistently achieve lowers marks that their peers on both math and reading tests, despite accommodations and adjustments made for their condition.
It was also found that there were stark differences between the sex of the children and the impact of the disorder. For one, the boys had a higher chance of keeping their ADHD diagnosis over the three years than the girls did. 74% of the male students kept it, while 50% of the female students kept it over time.
Dr. Sciberras made sure that the study worked out to be more of a community assessment than one that only focused on the children. Most data on children with ADHD was skewed to focus on males, and individuals with more severe symptoms. Dr. Sciberras and her team worked to have the groups as evenly matched in her study as possible. They were able to asses a group that was 69% male in the ADHA category and 64% in the control group. The families of the children who had ADHD were assessed as well, as familial details factored into many of the outcomes. It was found that 38% of the children with ADHD came from a family where the primary caregiver did not finish high school while.
The original study report can be found here.