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OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between different levels of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and sex differences in psychosocial outcomes during adolescence. METHOD: Swedish children (n = 4635) were screened for neuropsychiatric symptoms at age 9 or 12. ADHD symptoms were divided into three levels: screen-negative, screen-intermediate, and screen-positive. At follow-up (age 15), parents and teenagers filled out questionnaires regarding (i) hyperactivity/inattention, (ii) peer problems, (iii) school problems, (iv) internalizing problems, (v) antisocial behaviour, (vi) alcohol misuse, and (vii) drug misuse. All outcomes were controlled for symptoms of diagnostic categories other than ADHD. RESULTS: Increasing levels of ADHD symptoms in childhood were associated with higher proportions of adolescents who displayed negative psychosocial outcomes. More girls than boys reported internalizing problems (all levels) and risky drug use (screen-intermediate and screen-positive only). More boys reported antisocial behaviour at the screen-negative and screen-intermediate levels, but at the screen-positive level, similar proportions of girls and boys displayed antisocial behaviour. CONCLUSION: The findings support the view that ADHD symptoms, as well as their negative outcomes, are dimensionally distributed in the population and that adolescent girls and boys display different risk profiles. The findings confirm that ADHD symptoms are associated with higher risk of drug misuse in girls.

Original publication

DOI

10.1111/acps.12655

Type

Journal article

Journal

Acta psychiatr scand

Publication Date

12/2016

Volume

134

Pages

533 - 545

Keywords

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, behaviour, child and adolescent psychiatry, comorbidity, gender, Adolescent, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Bullying, Child, Comorbidity, Conduct Disorder, Depression, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Juvenile Delinquency, Male, Psychophysiologic Disorders, Risk-Taking, Substance-Related Disorders, Sweden