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Early substance abuse risk different in girls and boys with ADHD

June 11, 2011 - Washington

Boys and girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may differ from each other in their vulnerability to substance use problems, according to a new research.

Researchers of the University of Helsinki and University of Jyvaskyla, Finland assessed a total of 1545 Finnish adolescents assessed for DSM-IV-based ADHD symptoms by their parents and classroom teachers using standardized rating scales at age 11-12 years.

Baseline ADHD symptoms were less common among girls than boys, but among girls they were more predictive of adverse substance use outcomes once conduct disorder and previous substance use were controlled for.

Only in females were baseline ADHD symptoms significant predictors of alcohol abuse and dependence and illicit drug use at age 14. At the 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 of frequent alcohol and illicit drug use in girls.

"Inattentiveness and hyperactivity may be more predictive of alcohol use disorders and maladaptive patterns of alcohol and illicit drug use among girls than boys", said psychiatrist, Dr. Elina Sihvola.


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