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Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Aug;41(6):350-60.

Families of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a review.

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Division of Child Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.



1) To review the evidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other conditions in family members (siblings and parents) of children with ADHD and determine the importance of genetic and environmental factors in this condition. 2) To describe the prospective 10-year follow-up of 65 families with ADHD children and 43 families of matched normal controls. 3) To review various studies that have looked at parent-child interactions with ADHD children on and off stimulant medication, and such interactions over time. The paper thus provides an overview of family pathology and functioning of families of ADHD children over time.


The paper outlines twin, sibling, family and adoption studies with regard to possible genetic and environmental factors in ADHD. It also presents data of a prospective 10-year follow-up of 65 families with ADHD children and 43 families of normal controls. This family study evaluated sociocultural factors, child rearing practices, health of family members and relationships, as well as the parental view of the child's functioning over time.


A review of the literature suggests that ADHD has a strong genetic component, but that environmental factors also play an important role. Families of children with ADHD have more problems than families of normal controls, but these problems improve as the child with ADHD grows up and leaves home. Families of ADHD subjects can appreciate positive as well as negative changes in their children over time. Generally, family interactions with children with ADHD are problematic but improve when the child is on medication and when the child becomes an adult.


This condition has strong genetic underpinnings; therefore, diagnosing and treating family members (parents and siblings) as well as the child with ADHD is important in improving parent-child interactions and better long-term outcome for the child and his or her family.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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