Life cycle of ADHD

An interesting study on the course of ADHD:

Now a series of studies following 457 Finnish children from birth to ages 16 to 18 offers a glimpse of how the primary symptoms of ADHD typically evolve. At the same time, the studies raise provocative questions about the long-term effect of treating those symptoms with medication.

The studies focus on a subset of 188 Finnish teens considered to have “probable or definite ADHD” that will follow them into adulthood and 103 kids with conduct disorder — behavior issues that fall short of an ADHD diagnosis but put kids at higher risk for similar problems. Those teens were compared with a group of Finnish teens with no ADHD diagnosis.

Researchers found it is the can’t-sit-still kids — the stereotype of the “ADHD generation” — who are most likely to mature out of the disease. Among those with persistent ADHD, they also found, half have problems with cognitive skills that are key to success in adulthood, but half have no such deficits.

And when researchers compare the findings from Finland to studies of Americans with ADHD, an even more intriguing discovery emerges: By the time they’re in their late teens, those who receive drugs for attention problems seem to fare about the same as those who do not.

That is sure to fuel a simmering debate over the extent to which American kids with ADHD receive medication, often with little other support. In Finland, medication for ADHD is extremely rare.