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Children With ADHD at Risk for Depression, Suicide Later

In those ages 4-6, female sex, maternal depression tied to high risk of mental health issues by age 18

TUESDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Young children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have more than a four-fold increased risk of depression and a nearly four-fold increased risk of suicide attempt by age 18, according to research published in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland in College Park, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 125 children with ADHD at 4 to 6 years of age and 123 demographically matched controls to determine whether young children with ADHD are at increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt during adolescence, and to identify early predictors of young children who are at greatest risk.

Overall, the researchers found that young children with all subtypes of ADHD were significantly more at risk for major depression/dysthymia (hazard ratio, 4.32) and suicide attempts (hazard ratio, 3.60) by age 18 compared to children without ADHD. Female sex, having a mother with depression, and having concurrent emotional/behavioral problems at age 4 to 6 predicted the greatest risk for adverse mental health outcomes.

"Considered in light of what is already known about the antisocial outcomes of childhood ADHD and their risk for unintentional injury, it would not be premature to test early prevention programs designed to reduce both serious behavioral and affective sequelae of ADHD in early childhood," the authors write.

Two of the authors disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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