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Am J Psychiatry. 1996 Sep;153(9):1143-6.

Age-dependent decline of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Addiction Research Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.



This study was undertaken to assess whether the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is retained from childhood into adulthood.


A search of the literature yielded nine prospective studies in which cohorts of children with the disorder were formed and then reexamined 4-16 years later to determine the level of retained ADHD. The resulting data were subjected to nonlinear regression analysis to ascertain the relationship with chronological age.


The data followed an exponential decline over time to a high degree of accuracy.


The rate of ADHD in a given age group appears to decline by 50% approximately every 5 years. If a prevalence of ADHD in childhood of 4% is assumed and the exponential decline extrapolated, the estimated rate of adult ADHD ranges from about 0.8% at age 20 to 0.05% at age 40.

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