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Clinical correlates of ADHD in females: findings from a large group of girls ascertained from pediatric and psychiatric referral sources.

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1
Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. biederman@helix.mgh.harvard.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The scientific literature about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is based almost exclusively on male subjects, and girls with ADHD may be underidentified and undertreated. The aim of this study was to examine clinical correlates of ADHD in females using comprehensive assessments in multiple domains of functioning.

METHOD:

Subjects were 140 girls with ADHD and 122 comparison girls without ADHD ascertained from pediatric and psychiatric referral sources of the same age and social class. Subjects were assessed with structured diagnostic interviews, psychometric tests assessing intellectual functioning and academic achievement, as well as standardized assessments of interpersonal, school, and family functioning by raters who were blind to clinical diagnosis.

RESULTS:

Compared with female controls, girls with ADHD were more likely to have conduct, mood, and anxiety disorders; lower IQ and achievement scores; and more impairment on measures of social, school, and family functioning.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results extend to girls previous findings in boys indicating that ADHD is characterized by prototypical core symptoms of the disorder, high levels of comorbid psychopathology, and dysfunction in multiple domains. These results not only support findings documenting phenotypic similarities between the genders but also stress the severity of the disorder in females.

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