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Genetic, Familial Factors Influence ADHD, Not Necessarily Sex Of Child

Boys are four to nine times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But in a study involving almost 3,500 children, psychiatry researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found two distinct subtypes of ADHD, and at least one of those subtypes of ADHD affects boys and girls at practically the same rate.

"The hyperactivity of young boys is easy to spot, and a child who is excessively disruptive will come to the attention of a teacher more quickly than a little girl who may be sitting very quietly but having problems with inattention," says Rosalind J. Neuman, Ph.D., research assistant professor of mathematics in psychiatry and lead author of a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Neuman and colleagues Andrew C. Heath, D.Phil., Gwendolyn G. Reich, Ph.D., Theodore Reich, M.D., and Richard D. Todd, Ph.D., M.D., found that while young boys are more likely than girls to receive treatment for hyperactivity, simply being female does not reduce the risk of ADHD.

"Inattention problems are just as common in girls as in boys, and just as impairing," says Todd, a co-investigator and the Blanche F. Ittelson Professor and director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. "For both sexes, attention problems affect grades, family functioning and functioning with peers."

Neuman, Todd and colleagues examined questionnaires from three groups for the study, which was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Public Health Service. They studied more than 2,600 women and girls who were part of a registry of twins born in Missouri between 1968 and 1994. Their parents participated in phone interviews to determine the prevalence of various ADHD symptoms, from fidgeting to difficulty with organization to distractibility.

The researchers also looked for symptoms of ADHD in groups of high-r
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Contact: Jim Dryden
dryden@medicine.wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University in St. Louis
8-Apr-1999


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