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ADHD Risk in Children Linked to Allergies, Asthma

ADHD Risk in Children Linked to Allergies, AsthmaA new study suggests a potential link between allergy, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.

Experts say the number of children presenting with the three conditions is on the upswing in the United States.

As published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, researchers found an increased risk of ADHD in boys who have a history of allergy or asthma. ADHD is most commonly found in males, while asthma is also more common in young boys than girls.

“We found there is an increased risk of ADHD in boys with a history of asthma and an even stronger risk associated with milk intolerance,” said Eelko Hak, lead study author.

For the study, researchers in the Netherlands and Boston studied 884 boys with ADHD and 3,536 boys without the disorder.

Of the children with ADHD, 34 percent had asthma and 35 percent had an allergic disorder.

The study suggests medications used to treat these conditions may be associated with an increased ADHD risk.

“Further research is needed to understand why there appears to be an increased risk of developing ADHD in children with allergy and asthma,” said Gailen Marshall, M.D., editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

“Medications for these conditions far outweigh the risks, and can be life-saving in some conditions. Treatment should not be stopped, unless advised by a board-certified allergist.”

According to experts, allergy and asthma often run in families. If both parents have an allergy a child has a 75 percent chance of being allergic. If neither parent has allergy, the chance of a child developing an allergy is only 10 to 15 percent.

Allergists also know allergies and asthma are linked. An estimated 60 to 80 percent of children with asthma also have an allergy.

Although the cause of ADHD is unknown, this disorder is also thought to run in families.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

ADHD word collage photo by shutterstock.

ADHD Risk in Children Linked to Allergies, Asthma

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. (2018). ADHD Risk in Children Linked to Allergies, Asthma. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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