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Hyperactive Girls Can Often Become Unhealthy Women

Researchers find link between childhood behavior and adult heart woes

FRIDAY, July 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Hyperactive girls are more likely than other children to develop heart problems later in life, but researchers aren't sure there's a direct cause-and-effect link.

The Finnish study, which tracked 708 children into adulthood, also found that children who were hyperactive, socially isolated and had other problems dealing with people were more likely than other children to develop heart-damaging behaviors such as smoking as they became adults.

The study participants' emotional states were assessed when they were ages 3 to 9 in the early 1980s. Then, in 2001 and 2002, ultrasound was used to examine the health of the participants' arteries as young adults. They were also asked about their health habits, including smoking.

Those who as youngsters were hyperactive, isolated from other children and were most likely to display negative mood, low self-control and aggressive outbursts were more likely to smoke as adults, the study said. Girls who had those problems were also more likely to have high blood pressure and to be overweight as adults.

The study also found that all girls -- not just those diagnosed with a psychological problem -- who were more active than other children were more likely to show signs of clogged arteries as adults. This held true even when other factors were taken into account.

Stress, not hyperactivity itself, may be a major factor in all this, said researchers at the University of Helsinki. They speculated that hyperactive children may become stressed by constantly being told to not be so restless, not to be so noisy, "don't do this and don't do that."

The study was expected to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about hyperactivity.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, July 21, 2006
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