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Childhood Attention Problems May Affect Academic Results

Targeting attention issues could help boost academic attainment, study suggests

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Children who have difficulty paying attention at the age of 6 are more likely to have lower attainment scores for math and reading at age 17, according to a study published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Joshua Breslau, Ph.D., of the University of California in Davis, and colleagues conducted a study of 823 children from ethnically diverse backgrounds who were assessed for behavioral problems at the age of 6 years, and of whom 693 were assessed again at age 17 for academic attainment in math and reading.

The researchers found that there was a significant association between teachers' ratings of attention, internalizing behavior and externalizing problems at age 6 and attainment at age 17 in math and reading. However, only attention problems had a significant predictive power for academic achievement 11 years later. Helping children with attention problems will require a multidisciplinary approach, the authors conclude.

"On the one hand research is needed to build intervention strategies that bridge the gap between clinical assessments and learning behaviors that can be targeted through educational interventions in schools," the authors write. "On the other hand, clinical practice should also be informed by neuroscience research on attention, behavior regulation, and hyperactivity that may help tailor interventions to match an individual child's learning difficulties."

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