The first large, population-based study to follow children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder into adulthood shows that ADHD often doesn’t go away and that children with ADHD are more likely to have other psychiatric disorders as adults. They also appear more likely to commit suicide and to be incarcerated as adults. The findings appear in the March 4 online issue of Pediatrics.

“Only 37.5 percent of the children we contacted as adults were free of these really worrisome outcomes,” says lead investigator William Barbaresi, M.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital, who started the study when he was at Mayo. “That’s a sobering statistic that speaks to the need to greatly improve the long-term treatment of children with ADHD and provide a mechanism for treating them as adults.”

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The study is unique because it followed a large group of ADHD patients from childhood to adulthood, says Slavica Katusic, M.D., an epidemiologist and Mayo Clinic’s lead researcher on the study.

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