Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders present among children, affecting five to ten percent of American children between the ages of three and seventeen. Parents of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder know the core symptoms all too well: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can lead to low frustration tolerance, difficulty with expressive language, irritability, poor performance in school, and difficulty making and maintaining friendships. ADHD can take a toll on the children, but it also affects their parents and families, caregivers, teachers, and other classmates.
Symptoms of ADHD are often viewed as precursors for oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD). ODD is often characterized by frequent and persistent disobedient behavior, opposition, tendency to argue and ignore requests, hostility, negativism, intentionally annoying behavior, and defiance of authority figures. Conduct disorder is often a comorbidity among children with ADHD as they age into adulthood. Symptoms of a persistent pattern of aggression, bullying, stealing, and violation of rules and laws are often seen in those with CD.
Forty percent of children with ADHD also develop oppositional defiant disorder. No one knows exactly why there is a link, but one study sheds light on something that can be done to lower the risk of ADHD sufferers developing ODD and CD. According to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, adherence to ADHD drug treatment had a significant effect on reducing the risk of developing ODD and CD. In this study, over 30,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18 who were newly diagnosed with ADHD and started on a drug treatment regimen for at least 90 days were followed for ten years. Researchers found that children who were compliant with their medications (defined as having a medication possession ratio of 50% or greater) had a significantly lower risk of developing ODD and CD. The children who experienced the greatest amount of risk reduction were those who were medication compliant over 75% or more.
While parents and children may not be able to control the development of ADHD, they can reduce the risk of developing ODD and CD as comorbidities. It is critical that parents and caregivers help children adhere to their ADHD medication regimen. This may include seeking professional help in getting an ADHD diagnosis, acceptance of the need for medications, filling and arranging for payment of medications, taking the child to all necessary appointments to obtain their prescriptions, and contacting the physician regarding dosage amounts and titrating medication when necessary. As the adults, parents and caregivers play a crucial role in ensuring medication compliance.
Dr. Kothari, MD regularly sees children and adolescents with ADHD in her Boca Raton based Child Psychiatry practice, both newly diagnosed and those requiring ongoing therapy. Each child with ADHD is different, and Dr. Kothari tailors her recommendations and treatment to each child and family. She is currently accepting new patients to her practice, which is conveniently located nearby to Parkland, Coral Springs, Delray Beach, and Wellington. For an initial appointment or a follow up, please call her office at (561) 483-0844.