A new study evaluated school performance among children with have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and found that many entered school without being diagnosed; thus, hampering their performance. The findings were published online on September 29 in the journal Pediatrics by researchers in Australia and the United Kingdom.
The objective of the study was to assess the functional status (mental health, academic performance, peer problems) among children with ADHD and compare them to children without the disorder. In addition, gender and subtype differences were examined.
The study group comprised children aged 6 through 8 years who were recruited from 43 schools in Melbourne, Australia: 179 children who had ADHD and 212 non-ADHD controls. A two-stage screening technique was used: parent and teacher Conners 3 ADHD index; and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, Version IV (DISC-IV). Outcome measurements were mental health disorders (DISC-IV), academic performance (Wide Range Achievement Test 4), and peer problems (Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire). The data was subjected to statistical analysis.
The investigators found that, compared to the controls, children who had ADHD had a higher incidences of externalizing (11.0-fold higher) and internalizing (2.9-fold higher disorders; poorer reading (34% poorer) and mathematics (31% poorer) performance; and more peer problems. Boys and girls who had ADHD were equally impaired. Only 17% of children with ADHD group had been previously diagnosed. Previous diagnosis was higher in boys.
The authors concluded that, in their second year of school, children who had ADHD performed worse than controls across all functional areas; however, only a minority had been formally diagnosed with ADHD. They noted that their findings stressed the need for earlier diagnosis and intervention.
Information regarding ADHD in children from UCLA Health System is available at this link.
The researchers were affiliated with: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Discipline of Psychiatry, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; PenCLAHRC, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom; Joondalup Child Development Centre, Perth, Australia; and Department of Paediatrics, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.