Injuries kill more 11-year-olds in the U.S. than any other cause, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) almost doubles the risk of serious injury in children that age, according to a study released yesterday in Academic Pediatrics.
Researchers collected data on 4,754 fifth-graders in Birmingham, Ala., Houston, and Los Angeles. They found that the risk of serious injury—including broken bones, sprains, strains, and cuts and bruises—increased as the children's ADHD symptoms intensified.
ADHD is one of the most common problems involving behavior and brain function in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 9 percent of children ages 5 to 17 have ADHD, though less than half have been diagnosed.
The study’s authors suggest that because children with ADHD are often impulsive and inattentive, “they may not notice things because their mind is wandering, and they’re hyperactive so they’re always moving and getting into things.” Furthermore, children at this age may no longer have the frequent supervision of parents and teachers.
In our 2009 survey on ADHD, 63 percent of parents said their child with ADHD “did things without thinking, placing themselves in danger” and 59 percent said their child “ran or climbed when they shouldn’t.”
Bottom line: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a persistent pattern of hyperactivity and poor impulse control that lasts at least six months. But other problems can present with similar symptoms, so talk with a professional before jumping to any conclusions, says Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D. Consumer Reports survey research associate and a licensed clinical psychologist. If your child shows abnormally high levels of physical activity (hyperactivity) and poor impulse control, consider an evaluation by a health-care professional.
Association of Externalizing Behavior Disorder Symptoms and Injury Among Fifth Graders [Academic Pediatrics]