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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998 Jul;37(7):695-702.

Validity of DSM-IV attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder for younger children.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.

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  • J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999 Feb;38(2):222.



Little is known about the validity of the diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in young children. Moreover, the results of the DSM-IV field trials raised concerns that inclusion of the new predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD in DSM-IV might increase the likelihood of the diagnosis being given to active but unimpaired preschool and primary school children.


The validity of DSM-IV criteria for each subtype of ADHD was evaluated in 126 children, aged 4 through 6 years, and 126 matched comparison children. Probands and controls were classified by using structured diagnostic interviews of the parent and a DSM-IV checklist completed by the teacher.


Children who met DSM-IV criteria for each subtype of ADHD according to parent and teacher reports differed consistently from controls on a wide range of measures of social and academic impairment, even when other types of psychopathology and other potential confounds were controlled.


When diagnosed by means of a structured diagnostic protocol, all three DSM-IV subtypes of ADHD are valid for 4- through 6-year-old children in the sense of identifying children with lower mean scores on measures of adaptive functioning that are independently associated with ADHD.

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