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Socioeconomic Link to ADHD

Socioeconomic Link to ADHDIn a study of more than a million children, Swedish researchers found a strong association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and socioeconomic status.

Scientists discovered limited maternal education, single-parent families and welfare benefits were all associated with children receiving medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Swedish experts teamed up to carry out what they believe is the first study of risk factors for ADHD in a national cohort of school children, based on 1.16 million children on the country’s Prescribed Drug Register.

“We identified 7,960 Swedish-born children, aged between six and 19, using a prescription for ADHD medication as our indicator of severe ADHD” explains lead author Professor Anders Hjern from the Centre for Health Equity Studies, a collaboration between the Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.

“We then tracked their records through other registers, using the unique ten digit reference number all Swedish residents are given at birth, to determine a number of other factors.”

ADHD is a common, treatable childhood illness that can affect areas of the brain connected to problem solving, planning ahead, understanding others’ actions and controlling impulses. The primary symptoms of the condition are hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.

“Genes are also known to play an important role in the development of ADHD and studies of identical twins show that they are very likely to exhibit the same ADHD traits,” says Professor Hjern, who carried out the study when he was based at the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Key findings of the Swedish study include:

  • Boys were three times more likely to be on ADHD medication than girls, with medication use highest in boys aged between 10 and 15.
  • Women who had only received the most basic education were 130 percent more likely to have a child on ADHD medication than women with university degrees.
  • Children were 54 percent more likely to be on ADHD medication if they came from a single-parent family rather than having both parents at home.
  • Coming from a family on welfare benefits increased the risk of ADHD medication by 135 percent when compared with households not claiming benefits.
  • There were no statistically significant differences between the effects that socioeconomic factors had on boys or girls in the study.

When the researchers examined the total impact of the socioeconomic factors, they found that the impact was similar to that reported in twin studies.

“Our study showed that almost half of the cases could be explained by the socioeconomic factors included in our analysis, clearly demonstrating that these are potent predictors of ADHD-medication in Swedish schoolchildren,” says Professor Hjern.

“There are several ways that family factors may influence ADHD. For example, low parental education is associated with general social disadvantage, a higher number of stress factors and a greater risk of childhood adversity.

“Lack of time and money are more common in single parent families, as are lack of social support and family conflict, including separation, divorce and parental absence.

“We believe that further research into ADHD should focus on the interaction between genes and environmental factors in order to determine the reasons why some children develop ADHD and how it could be prevented.”

The study is published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Socioeconomic Link to ADHD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Socioeconomic Link to ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/06/02/socioeconomic-link-to-adhd/14238.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.