New research discovers compelling evidence that symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often persist into adulthood.
In the study, investigators found that sixty percent of children with ADHD demonstrated persistence of symptoms into their mid-20’s, and 41 percent had both symptoms and impairment as young adults.
Experts have often disagreed on the rate of ADHD persistence into adulthood. The variation in opinion is believed to stem from how information is collected and analyzed.
The current study represents a 16-year follow-up of the ‘Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (the “MTA”)’. Saliently, researchers utilized a new study methodology to improve accuracy of findings.
Investigators believe the new method — which combines parent and self-reports plus a symptom threshold that is adjusted for adulthood — provides a better assessment of retained symptoms.
“There has been a lot of recent controversy over whether children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms into adulthood,” said Dr. Margaret Sibley, lead author of the¬†Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry¬†study.
“This study found that the way you diagnose ADHD can lead to different conclusions about whether or not an adult still has the disorder that started in childhood.
First, if you ask the adult about their continued symptoms, they will often be unaware of them; however, family members or others who know them well often confirm that they still observe significant symptoms in the adult.”
Dr. Sibley added that if the classic childhood definition of ADHD is used when diagnosing adults, many cases will be missed because symptom presentation changes in adulthood.
“By asking a family member about the adult’s symptoms and using adult-based definitions of the disorder, you typically find that around half of children with moderate to severe ADHD still show significant signs of the disorder in adulthood.”