Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, said it's extremely important to realize that the findings are based on treatments that were available in the 1970s and 1980s, and that children diagnosed today have many more treatment options available to them.
"I don't want to suggest that there aren't increased risks for these kids, because there are. But, what was an outcome for kids who were diagnosed in 1975 may have relatively little relevance for children diagnosed with ADHD today," Adesman said.
"We have improvements in medications, educational accommodations and even higher education that could change outcomes. We can't ignore this study, but we need to look at it in context," he added.
Adesman said it's also important to remember that this is likely a very small percentage of the general population.
Both experts said it's important for parents to be attuned to their children and to get them evaluated right away if they suspect a problem.
"Problem behaviors can be minimized early on for the best possible outcomes," Adesman said.
Brook said the parent-child relationship is also key, but acknowledged that having a child with ADHD can be very hard on parents. She suggested encouraging children to develop the strengths they have.
"Try to pick areas where they can succeed, so they get positive reinforcement," she advised. "When they have some success, it can help offset other areas, and they'll be more likely to be accepted by their peers and less likely to feel depressed or anxious."
While the study found an association between ADHD in adulthood and a raised risk of problems with mental and physical health, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Learn more about ADHD from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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