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Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Moffitt, TE; Houts, R; Asherson, P; Belsky, DW; Corcoran, DL; Hammerle, M; Harrington, H; Hogan, S; Meier, MH; Polanczyk, GV; Poulton, R ...
Published in: The American journal of psychiatry
October 2015

Despite a prevailing assumption that adult ADHD is a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder, no prospective longitudinal study has described the childhoods of the adult ADHD population. The authors report follow-back analyses of ADHD cases diagnosed in adulthood, alongside follow-forward analyses of ADHD cases diagnosed in childhood, in one cohort.Participants belonged to a representative birth cohort of 1,037 individuals born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1972 and 1973 and followed to age 38, with 95% retention. Symptoms of ADHD, associated clinical features, comorbid disorders, neuropsychological deficits, genome-wide association study-derived polygenic risk, and life impairment indicators were assessed. Data sources were participants, parents, teachers, informants, neuropsychological test results, and administrative records. Adult ADHD diagnoses used DSM-5 criteria, apart from onset age and cross-setting corroboration, which were study outcome measures.As expected, childhood ADHD had a prevalence of 6% (predominantly male) and was associated with childhood comorbid disorders, neurocognitive deficits, polygenic risk, and residual adult life impairment. Also as expected, adult ADHD had a prevalence of 3% (gender balanced) and was associated with adult substance dependence, adult life impairment, and treatment contact. Unexpectedly, the childhood ADHD and adult ADHD groups comprised virtually nonoverlapping sets; 90% of adult ADHD cases lacked a history of childhood ADHD. Also unexpectedly, the adult ADHD group did not show tested neuropsychological deficits in childhood or adulthood, nor did they show polygenic risk for childhood ADHD.The findings raise the possibility that adults presenting with the ADHD symptom picture may not have a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder. If this finding is replicated, then the disorder's place in the classification system must be reconsidered, and research must investigate the etiology of adult ADHD.

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Published In

The American journal of psychiatry

DOI

EISSN

1535-7228

ISSN

0002-953X

Publication Date

October 2015

Volume

172

Issue

10

Start / End Page

967 / 977

Related Subject Headings

  • Psychiatry
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prevalence
  • New Zealand
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Male
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Humans
  • Female
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Moffitt, T. E., Houts, R., Asherson, P., Belsky, D. W., Corcoran, D. L., Hammerle, M., … Caspi, A. (2015). Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(10), 967–977. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14101266
Moffitt, Terrie E., Renate Houts, Philip Asherson, Daniel W. Belsky, David L. Corcoran, Maggie Hammerle, HonaLee Harrington, et al. “Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study.The American Journal of Psychiatry 172, no. 10 (October 2015): 967–77. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14101266.
Moffitt TE, Houts R, Asherson P, Belsky DW, Corcoran DL, Hammerle M, et al. Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study. The American journal of psychiatry. 2015 Oct;172(10):967–77.
Moffitt, Terrie E., et al. “Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study.The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 172, no. 10, Oct. 2015, pp. 967–77. Epmc, doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14101266.
Moffitt TE, Houts R, Asherson P, Belsky DW, Corcoran DL, Hammerle M, Harrington H, Hogan S, Meier MH, Polanczyk GV, Poulton R, Ramrakha S, Sugden K, Williams B, Rohde LA, Caspi A. Is Adult ADHD a Childhood-Onset Neurodevelopmental Disorder? Evidence From a Four-Decade Longitudinal Cohort Study. The American journal of psychiatry. 2015 Oct;172(10):967–977.
Journal cover image

Published In

The American journal of psychiatry

DOI

EISSN

1535-7228

ISSN

0002-953X

Publication Date

October 2015

Volume

172

Issue

10

Start / End Page

967 / 977

Related Subject Headings

  • Psychiatry
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prevalence
  • New Zealand
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Male
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Humans
  • Female