Kids with ADHD may face a lifetime of challenges

Kids with ADHD may face a lifetime of challenges

Contrary to popular belief, kids don’t always outgrow the condition, scientists say. In fact, children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face a lifetime of challenges as they age and are more likely to have other psychiatric problems as adults according to recent research.

The findings from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital were published in the journal Pediatrics.

The study is the first to follow kids with ADHD into their adult years. The symptoms of the condition were still apparent as children aged and raises questions about treatment.

“Only 37.5 percent of the children we contacted as adults were free of these really worrisome outcomes,” said study leader, Dr. William Barbaresi, of Boston Children’s Hospital, in a news release. “That’s a sobering statistic that speaks to the need to greatly improve the long-term treatment of children with ADHD and provide a mechanism for treating them as adults.”

ADHD is a childhood disorder that causes inattentiveness, impulsive behavior and hyper-activity. It affects 3-7 percent of children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It affects boys more than girls.

Researchers followed 5,718 children that included almost 400 who had ADHD. Nearly 30 percent of the children with ADHD carried that condition into adulthood. Making matters worse, research showed 57 percent those children with ADHD had additional disorders as adults including anxiety, depression and substance abuse compared with 35 percent of those without ADHD.

Dr. Lisa Yeh, a child adolescent psychiatrist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says it’s critically important for those with ADHD to find the right doctor.

“People who have ADHD need to be treated by a physician that looks at the condition in a comprehensive way and goes beyond just prescribing medication,” she says. “Patients need to be given the right tools to help them with organizational skills, time management techniques and other ways of managing the symptoms. This is especially important for adult patients.”

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  1. There is also new research that shows that having a more balanced and holistic approach to nutrition can influence how the child is able to cope with ADHD. Having a balanced diet also helps the medication work better as well. If you would like me to share the research studies with you, please do let me know.

  2. Sometimes we forget that many health conditions aren't episodic or curable simply with drugs or therapies. It's startling to see this condition needs to be addressed and treated as potentially long-term or even life-long.

  3. My sister is 51 years old with ADHD. Can you recommend a doctor that "looks at the condition in a comprehensive way and goes beyond just prescribing medication" here at AIMMC?

  4. I have a 20 year old son that is having MORE trouble today with his ADHD than he did growing up. We are really struggling. He states “It was easier as an adolesent because you just go through the school system with people telling you what to do and expectations set. But when you graduate High School The only direction comes from within and I just can’t do it”. It breaks my heart. Any suggestions for a direction? It isn’t a mental illness or is it? I’m open to any thoughts or suggestions. In the Good Samaritan area.

  5. Didn’t need a study to tell me this! At 57 I still struggle with attention deficit. Had to rely on my own coping mechanisms as there wasnt even a diagnosis for it when I was a child.

  6. Hello Denise,
    We can connect you with a physician in your area. Please call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE, and our health adviser team can assist you. Also, more information about our physicians can be found on our website at

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.