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Pediatrics. 2011 Mar;127(3):462-70. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-0165. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Patterns of comorbidity, functioning, and service use for US children with ADHD, 2007.

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  • 1UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, 10990 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



To determine patterns of comorbidity, functioning, and service use for US children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Bivariate and multivariable cross-sectional analyses were conducted on data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health on 61 779 children ages 6 to 17 years, including 5028 with ADHD.


Parent-reported diagnosed prevalence of ADHD was 8.2%. Children with ADHD were more likely to have other mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions. Parents reported that 46% of children with ADHD had a learning disability versus 5% without ADHD, 27% vs 2% had a conduct disorder, 18% vs 2% anxiety, 14% vs 1% depression, and 12% vs 3% speech problems (all P < .05). Most children with ADHD had at least 1 comorbid disorder: 33% had 1, 16% had 2, and 18% had 3 or more. The risk for having 3 or more comorbidities was 3.8 times higher for poor versus affluent children (30% vs 8%). Children with ADHD had higher odds of activity restriction (odds ratio: 4.14 [95% confidence interval: 3.34-5.15]), school problems (odds ratio: 5.18 [95% confidence interval: 4.47-6.01]), grade repetition, and poor parent-child communication, whereas social competence scores were lower and parent aggravation higher. Functioning declined in a stepwise fashion with increasing numbers of comorbidities, and use of health and educational services and need for care coordination increased.


Clinical management of ADHD must address multiple comorbid conditions and manage a range of adverse functional outcomes. Therapeutic approaches should be responsive to each child's neurodevelopmental profile, tailored to their unique social and family circumstances, and integrated with educational, mental health and social support services.

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