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Pediatr Clin North Am. 1999 Oct;46(5):831-43.

What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?

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Division of Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.


ADHD is a highly prevalent condition with the core symptoms of functionally impairing limitations in sustained attention and impulsivity/overactivity. Other frequent symptoms include overemotionality or overreactivity, academic underachievement, low self-esteem, and interpersonal difficulties. The assessment for and diagnosis of ADHD are complicated by the lack of a specific test or marker for the disorder, the occurrence of symptoms along a continuum in the population, and its frequent association with other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Due to the often pervasive effects of these symptoms and their chronicity, treatment generally must be multifaceted and prolonged. Neuropsychological studies suggest that individuals with ADHD may have their most salient difficulties in the areas of organizing, preparing, and inhibiting responses. Neurobiologic studies suggest that the circuitry involving frontal cortical-basal ganglia connections may be structurally or functionally different in individuals with ADHD, although the specificity of these findings has not been researched thoroughly. ADHD symptoms are highly, although not entirely, heritable. Many questions remain as to the specifics of etiology and best treatment practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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