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ADHD Children at Risk for Delinquency, Substance Abuse

Delinquency rate was 27 percent in children aged 11 to 13 compared with 7 percent of peers

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have delinquency and substance use problems later on than other children their age, researchers report in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Brooke Molina, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine compared 487 children from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA), in which children were randomly assigned to groups including medication or no medication, to 272 children in a local comparison group.

At 36 months, when most children were aged 11 to 13 years, the delinquency rate was 27.1 percent among children with ADHD compared with 7.4 percent of controls. The rate of substance use was 17.4 percent in the ADHD children compared with 7.8 percent of controls. Children with ADHD who had undergone intensive behavioral therapy were less likely to report substance abuse at the 24-month follow-up.

"Most of the MTA children were not engaging in delinquent behaviors or experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, or other illicit drugs by 11 to 13 years of age," the researchers conclude. "However, our finding that the MTA children were at increased risk of delinquency and early substance use two years after intensive pharmacological and/or behavioral treatment underscores the need for continuous monitoring of these outcomes as the children enter adolescence."

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