Wednesday, 5 July 2017

1 in 8 kids diagnosed with ADHD also diagnosed with autism

"Approximately one in eight children currently diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] was also diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."

So said the findings reported by Benjamin Zablotsky and colleagues [1] derived from results obtained from the US 2014 National Survey of the Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD and Tourette Syndrome covering some 2500 participants. Based on parental responses via telephone interviews, researchers compared "children diagnosed with ADHD and ASD with children with ADHD, but not ASD" to arrive at their headline figure. They further observed that: "Children diagnosed with both disorders had greater treatment needs, more co-occurring conditions, and were more likely to have a combined hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive ADHD subtype."

It's not necessarily new news that autism and ADHD have more than a passing connection to one and another (see here). Indeed, the idea that those diagnosed with ADHD might also need to be preferentially assessed for autism too has been suggested before (see here and see here) and under more controlled scientific conditions. All very ESSENCE like if you ask me (see here).

I'm also struck by the suggestion that those with ADHD plus autism might also be more likely to have 'greater treatment needs' and 'more co-occurring conditions'. This rings particularly true when it comes to adulthood and the enhanced risks facing those with such dual diagnoses (see here). I might also add that 'co-occurring conditions' does not necessarily imply just the behavioural or psychiatric as per other findings [2]. Indeed, the observations reported by Anna Lamanna and colleagues on allergic disease potentially being something to consider when it comes to the comorbidity of ADHD and autism ties in with other findings covered on this blog (see here). The immune system might be doing so much more than just defending the body against the odd pathogen...

And to close, in keeping with today's subject matter, it appears that medications indicated for ADHD might also have some added value alongside the management of core ADHD symptoms [3].


[1] Zablotsky B. et al. The Co-Occurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children With ADHD. J Atten Disord. 2017 Jun 1:1087054717713638.

[2] Lamanna AL. et al. Risk factors for the existence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017 Jun 15;13:1559-1567.

[3] Lu Y. et al. Association Between Medication Use and Performance on Higher Education Entrance Tests in Individuals With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Jun 28.