ADHD Frequently Co-Occurs With Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Comorbid ADHD increased with age and was associated with increased ASD severity.
Comorbid ADHD increased with age and was associated with increased ASD severity.

HealthDay News — Co-occurrence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and children with both conditions have a higher risk of anxiety and mood disorders, according to a study published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

In an effort to compare the comorbidity of anxiety and mood disorders in children with ASD, with and without ADHD, Eliza Gordon-Lipkin, M.D., from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, and colleagues used child data (aged 6 to 17 years) from the Interactive Autism Network, an internet-mediated, parent-report, autism research registry.

The researchers found that 45.3 percent of the 3,319 children included in the analysis had ADHD. 

Comorbid ADHD increased with age (P < 0.001) and was associated with increased ASD severity (P < 0.001). Compared with children with ASD alone, children with ASD and ADHD had an increased risk of anxiety disorder (adjusted relative risk, 2.20) and mood disorder (adjusted relative risk, 2.72).

"Co-occurrence of ADHD is common in children with ASD. Children with both ASD and ADHD have an increased risk of anxiety and mood disorders," the authors write. "Physicians who care for children with ASD should be aware of the coexistence of these treatable conditions."

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