Girls With ADHD

Risky behavior for girls with ADHD is a public health concern

(RxWiki News) Girls with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to have impulse control issues. Impulsive behavior can get out of hand pretty quickly.

A recent study followed a group of girls with ADHD for 10 years. Results showed high rates of self-harm and suicide attempts in the ADHD group.

"Talk to someone if you're considering self-harm."

Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkley, led an investigation into the risks of self-injury and suicide attempts in girls with ADHD.

For the study, 228 girls aged 6-12 were recruited and tested for ADHD. A total of 140 girls tested positive for ADHD, and the rest of the girls were used as controls.

The racial breakdown of the group was 53 percent white, 27 percent African-American, 11 percent Latina and 9 percent Asian.

The ADHD group was broken down into subtypes.

ADHD-inattentive is a subtype where the person can sit quietly, even though they have a tough time paying attention, 47 girls fit this criteria.

ADHD-combined is a subtype combining inattentive with impulsive and hyperactive, 93 girls fell into this subgroup.

Researchers did a follow-up assessment with each of the girls and their families after five years, and again after 10 years when the girls were 17 to 24 years old.

A total of 95 percent of the original group participated in the 10-year follow-up.

The follow-up took inventory of each girl’s suicide attempts, self-injury, substance abuse, eating habits, self-perceptions, depressive symptoms, driving behavior, academic achievement and neuropsychological functioning.

Results of the study showed that 22 percent of ADHD-combined girls had at least one suicide attempt. The ADHD-inattentive group had a suicide attempt rate of 8 percent and the control group had 6 percent.

Self-injury was reported by 51 percent of the ADHD-combined group, 29 percent of the ADHD-inattentive group and 19 percent of the control group.

Self-injury was defined as cutting, burning, scratching or hitting their bodies.

There were no significant differences between the three groups for substance abuse, driving and eating behavior.

Dr. Hinshaw said, “ADHD can signal future psychological problems for girls as they are entering adulthood. Our findings reinforce the idea that ADHD in girls is particularly severe and can have serious public health implications.”

“ADHD in girls and women carries a particularly high risk of internalizing, even self-harmful behavior patterns.”

“We know that girls with ADHD-combined are more likely to be impulsive and have less control over their actions, which could help explain these distressing findings.”

This study was published in August in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 14, 2012