Dr. William J. Barbaresi of the Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School; and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine tracked hundreds of children with ADHD into adulthood and reported the majority had mental health problems such as alcohol or drug dependence, anxiety, depression, or a personality disorder.
Almost 6,000 adults with childhood ADHD and non-ADHD controls were invited to participate in a prospective outcome study. Standardized mortality ratios were constructed to compare overall and cause-specific mortality between childhood ADHD cases and controls. Incarceration status was determined for childhood ADHD cases. A standardized neuropsychiatric interview was administered, the researchers said.
The researchers determined of the 367 childhood cases of ADHD 2 percent were deceased and 2.7 percent were incarcerated.
However, the cause-specific mortality for suicide was significantly higher among ADHD cases. Among the childhood ADHD cases participating in the prospective assessment ADHD persisted into adulthood for 29.3 percent.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found participating childhood ADHD cases were more likely than controls to have one or more other psychiatric disorder.
"Childhood ADHD is a chronic health problem, with significant risk for mortality, persistence of ADHD, and long-term morbidity in adulthood," the researchers said.