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Hyperactivity grows into adult problems.

A substantial minority of hyperactive boys enter adulthood holding low-paying, nonprofessional jobs, abusing illicit drugs, and regularly committing irresponsible and violent acts, according to a long-term study published in the July ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY.

However, childhood hyperactivity-officially known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - does not increase the likelihood of chronic unemployment as an adult, assert Salvatore Mannuzza, a psychologist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and his colleagues. About one in three hyperactive boys completes all or part of college, and a surprisingly large number end up owning their own small business, the researchers note.

"Regardless of adult psychiatric status, ADHD placed children at relative risk for educational and vocational disadvantage," Mannuzza's team reports.

The study consisted of 91 white males, with an average age of 26, who first received a diagnosis of hyperactivity between the ages of 6 and 12. All had been treated for the disorder, primarily with a stimulant medication that often eases symptoms. Three categories of symptoms typify ADHD: inattention, including difficulty concentrating on school projects; impulsivity, such as constantly jumping from one activity to another; and hyperactivity, often signaled by an inability to stay seated or to sit still without fidgeting.

Another 95 men who had displayed no evidence of ADHD as children served as a control group.

Nearly one-quarter of the hyperactive boys failed to finish high school, compared with only two of the controls. Only one hyperactive boy, compared with eight controls, went on to obtain a graduate degree.

Far fewer members of the ADHD group held professional-level jobs, such as accountant, stock broker, or scientist.

In contrast, 16 of these same men owned and operated their own small business, compared with five controls. The reasons for this finding remain unclear, and further study is needed to determine its accuracy, the scientists say,

Overall, 30 men who grew up with ADHD experienced an ongoing mental disorder, compared with 15 controls. Two diagnoses accounted for most of the psychological disturbances in the former group: antisocial personality disorder, characterized by long-standing irresponsible, aggressive, and often criminal behavior; and abuse of illegal drugs.

Only 10 of the men with an earlier diagnosis of hyperactivity received either a current ADHD diagnosis or suffered from substantial ADHD symptoms, the researchers maintain. This probably represents an underestimate, in their opinion, since interviewers did not ask 15 men in the ADHD group about symptoms of adult hyperactivity because those men denied having had significant signs of hyperactivity as children.
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Title Annotation:drug abuse, irresponsible and violent acts and underemployment more frequent among men diagnosed as hyperactive as children
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 31, 1993
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