|Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997 Page 1&2|
Hyperactive children often grow up to be troubled adults. But many researchers believe the connection is indirect; hyperactivity only leads to adult psychopathology, they say, if conduct disorder (CD) is also present in childhood. A new study, however, in n n n ndicates that hyperactivity is a powerful predictor of serious adult problems, even in the absence of childhood CD.
In a community survey, Eric Taylor and colleagues identified four groups of children: those with hyperactivity but not CD, those with CD but not hyperactivity, those with both conditions, and those with neither. Nine years later, when the children were be e e e etween 16 and 18, Taylor et al. re-evaluated them. This portion of the study included 31 hyperactive teens, 24 with CD, 25 with both hyperactivity and CD, and 32 control subjects.
The researchers say their data revealed that "a wide range of adversity is predicted" by the presence of childhood hyperactivity, even in the absence of CD. Hyperactivity, they say, "is predictive of violence, both by self-report and parental account, and d d d d of defiant and disruptive behaviors; and it is often followed by poor relationships with age peers, a lack of involvement in social activities, a lack of engagement in constructive activities generally, and poor academic achievement." The researchers say they did not detect a link between childhood hyperactivity and later drug abuse, but note that their subjects "were still rather young" to determine the extent of their risk for substance abuse. The risk for psychiatric disorders, however, was surprisingl l l l ly large: "nearly one half of the hyperactive children in this study," Taylor et al. say, "were give a psychiatric diagnosis."
The researchers note that childhood hyperactivity predicted conduct problems in the teen years, while conduct problems in childhood did not predict teenage hyperactivity. "This asymmetry," they say, "suggests a way of considering the reason for the freque e e e ent comorbidity of hyperactivity and conduct disorder: conduct disorder is a complication of hyperactivity."
"Hyperactivity and conduct problems as risk factors for adolescent development," Eric Taylor, Oliver Chadwick, Ellen Heptinstall, and Marina Danckaerts, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 35, No. 9, September 1 1 1 1 1996, pp. 1213-1226. Address: Eric Taylor, MRC Child Psychiatry Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, de Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, U.K.