Brain imaging reveals ADHD as a collection of different disorders

Researchers have found that patients with different types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have impairments in unique brain systems, indicating that there may not be a one-size-fits-all explanation for the cause of the disorder. Based on performance on behavioral tests, adolescents with ADHD fit into one of three subgroups, where each group demonstrated distinct impairments in the brain with no common abnormalities between them.

The study, published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, has the potential to radically reframe how researchers think about ADHD. “This study found evidence that clearly supports the idea that ADHD-diagnosed adolescents are not all the same neurobiologically,” said first author Dr. Michael Stevens, of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, Hartford, CT, and Yale University. Rather than a single disorder with small variations, the findings suggest that the diagnosis instead encompasses a “constellation” of different types of ADHD in which the brain functions in completely different ways.

Full story at Science Daily

Full story at Science Daily

Online parent training helps young kids with ADHD

Parents of children with ADHD can feel desperate for resources or treatments to help their children who struggle with inattention, distractibility and impulsiveness affecting school and home. Researchers at Lehigh University have discovered that brief online or in-person behavioral therapy for parents is equally effective in improving children’s behavior and parental knowledge — a potential game changer for parents strapped for time and access.

They report these findings in a new paper published in The Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

Few Use Behavior Therapy, Despite Recommendations

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends behavior therapy support as the first line of treatment for preschool-age children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), limited availability of clinicians, cost and challenges in transportation and child care — as well as reliance on pharmacological drugs — mean few families access such therapy for themselves and their children. A 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control found that about 75 percent of young children with ADHD received medicine as treatment and only about 50 percent of young children with ADHD with Medicaid and 40 percent with employer-sponsored insurance got psychological services, which may include behavior therapy. ADHD occurs in 2 to 15 percent of young children, with 11 percent of children in the U.S. receiving an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives.

Full story at Science Daily

Green schoolyards offer physical and mental health benefits for children

A growing body of evidence supports the claim that access to safe, natural areas improves health across a wide variety of areas, including heart health, mental health, weight management, ADHD, and stress among children. A concept gaining momentum in this realm is green schoolyards. But what is a green schoolyard?

A research abstract, “Green Schoolyards Support Healthy Bodies, Minds and Communities,” that explores the concept of a green schoolyard will be presented Saturday, Sept. 16 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

“Green schoolyards can include outdoor classrooms, native gardens, storm water capture, traditional play equipment, vegetable gardens, trails, trees and more,” says Stephen Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP, medical director, Dell Children’s Texas Center for the Prevention & Treatment of Childhood Obesity and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UT-Austin Dell Medical School. “And outside of school time, these schoolyards can be open for the surrounding community to use, benefitting everyone.”

Full story at Science Daily

Common cerebral white matter abnormalities found in children with autistic traits

Structural abnormalities in the brain’s white matter match up consistently with the severity of autistic symptoms not only in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also, to some degree, in those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who also have autistic traits.

This is the finding of a new study, published September 6 in JAMA Psychiatry, which highlights evidence supporting the theory that common, underlying brain mechanisms may be responsible for autistic traits seen in both diagnoses.

Led by researchers in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, the new study focused on white matter — nerve bundles that transmit information between brain regions. Researchers say the link between symptom severity and white matter structural patterns was most evident in the region of the brain called the corpus callosum, which connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres and enables communication between them.

Full story at Science Daily

ADHD medication tied to lower risk for alcohol, drug abuse in teens and adults

The use of medication to treat attention deficient hyperactivity disorder is linked to significantly lower risk for substance use problems in adolescents and adults with ADHD, according to a study led by researchers at Indiana University.

The risk of substance use problems during periods of medication use was 35 percent lower in men and 31 percent lower in women in the study. The results, based upon nearly 3 million people with ADHD in the United States, are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“This study contributes to growing evidence that ADHD medication is linked to lower risk for many types of harmful behavior, including substance abuse,” said Patrick D. Quinn, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study. “The results also highlight the importance of careful diagnosis and compliance with treatment.”

Full story of ADHD medication and teen substance abuse risk at Science Daily

Licensing and motor vehicle crash risk among teens with ADHD

Adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are licensed to drive less often and, when this group is licensed, they have a greater risk of crashing, according to a new study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

The defining symptoms of ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity) have been linked to unsafe driving behaviors.

Allison E. Curry, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and coauthors linked electronic health records to New Jersey traffic safety databases for more than 18,000 primary care patients of the CHOP health care network born from 1987 to 1997. Study analyses were restricted to 2,479 adolescents and young adults with ADHD and 15,865 without ADHD who had at least one full month of follow-up after becoming age-eligible for licensure, which in New Jersey is at the minimum age of 17.

Full story of motor vehicle crash risk among teens with ADHD at Science Daily

Parent training on ADHD using volunteers can help meet growing treatment needs

Using volunteers to train parents concerned about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in their children can improve capacity to meet increasing ADHD treatment needs, finds a new study by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, highlights an innovative approach to embracing community resources — tapping volunteers to act as therapists.

“Given the prevalence of ADHD in many countries and the limited access to evidence-based, non-medication treatment, there is a pressing need to expand service delivery systems. Our findings demonstrate that the service model of behavioral parent training we studied can effectively provide training to many families of youth with concerns about ADHD and is likely highly sustainable,” said Anil Chacko, associate professor of counseling psychology at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s author.

Full story of parent training on ADHD treatment at Science Daily

Athletes with ADHD more likely to choose team sports, could increase injury risk, study finds

A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds athletes with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to compete in team contact sports than individual sports, which could increase their risk of injury.

The study, presented at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, analyzed more than 850 athletes who competed in a variety of sports over a five-year period at The Ohio State University.

“We expected athletes with ADHD to gravitate toward individual sports, like golf or tennis, where they have more control, there is a little bit more repetitiveness and they don’t have to worry about the responsibilities or roles of teammates or opponents,” said Dr. James Borchers, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “But what we found was our athletes with ADHD were twice as likely to compete in team sports, and their rate of participation in contact sports, like football, hockey and lacrosse, was 142 percent higher.”

Full story of athletes with ADHD choosing team sports at Science Daily

Benefits of long-term use of ADHD medications questioned

In a study that followed more than 500 children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) into adulthood, extended use of stimulant medication was linked with suppressed adult height but not with reduced symptoms of ADHD.

The findings suggest that short-term treatment of ADHD with stimulant medication is well justified by benefits that outweigh costs, but long-term treatment may be associated with growth-related costs that may not be balanced by symptom-related benefits.

Full story of long-term use of ADHD medication questioned at Science Daily

Children with autism may be over-diagnosed with ADHD, new study suggests

A well-established screening tool used to assess children for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be less accurate when a child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pediatric researchers report that children with ASD may mistakenly be diagnosed with ADHD because they have autism-related social impairments rather than problems with attention. This is important for understanding what are the right services and treatments for a child.

The study team, including one of the psychologists who developed the ADHD screening tool, concludes that the tool needs to be refined to better identify the correct disorder, and that clinicians should supplement the screening tool with careful clinical interviews.

Full story of autism over-diagnosed with ADHD at Science Daily