Teen girls ADHD predicts substance abuse

June 13, 2011 at 7:32 PM
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HELSINKI, Finland, June 13 (UPI) -- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is less common in girls, but those who have it are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers in Finland say.

Researchers of the University of Helsinki and University of Jyvaskyla in Finland say the study involved 1,545 Finnish adolescents assessed for ADHD symptoms by their parents and classroom teachers using standardized rating scales at age 11 or 12.

Although baseline ADHD symptoms were less common among girls than boys, among girls it was more predictive of adverse substance use outcomes, the researchers say.

Dr. Elina Sihvola says only in females were baseline ADHD symptoms significant predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence and illicit drug use at age 14.

However, the study participants at age of 17.5, parents' reports of inattentiveness and hyperactivity were significant predictors for frequent alcohol use in both sexes, but they were more predictive in girls. In addition, impulsivity in teachers' ratings predicted frequent alcohol use and illicit drug use in boys.

"Inattentiveness and hyperactivity may be more predictive of alcohol use disorders and maladaptive patterns of alcohol and illicit drug use among girls than boys," Sihvola says in a statement.

"The importance of these behavioral symptoms should be assessed further in the community, as they could jeopardize adolescents' successful transitioning into adult roles."

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