Associations between abuse/neglect and ADHD from childhood to young adulthood: A prospective nationally-representative twin study

 22 November 2018

Child maltreatment has consistently been found to be associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the robustness of this association and the direction of the link between maltreatment and ADHDremain unclear. We used data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a cohort of 2232 British twins, to investigate the associations between exposure to abuse/neglect and ADHD in childhood and in young adulthood, and to test their robustness and specificity. We also aimed to test longitudinal associations between abuse/neglect and ADHD from childhood to young adulthood, controlling for confounders. Results indicated strong associations between abuse/neglect and ADHD in childhood and also in young adulthood. In childhood, the association was concentrated among children with comorbid conduct disorder. Longitudinal analyses showed that childhood ADHD predicted abuse/neglect in later years. This association was again concentrated among individuals with comorbid conduct disorder. Abuse/neglect in childhood was not associated with later ADHD in young adulthood after adjusting for childhood ADHD. Our study does not provide support of a causal link between child abuse/neglect and adult ADHD but highlights the possibility of a long-term effect of disruptive behaviors on the risk for experiencing abuse/neglect. These findings emphasize the need for clinicians treating people with ADHD, especially those with comorbid conduct disorder, to be aware of their increased risk for experiencing abuse/neglect. Interventions aimed at reducing risks of abuse/neglect should also focus on the environment of individuals with disruptive behaviors.

Author(s):

Adi Stern, Jessica Agnew-Blais, Andrea Danese, Helen L. Fisher, Sara R. Jaffee, Timothy Matthews, Guilherme V. Polanczyk and Louise Arseneault

Publisher:

Child Abuse & Neglect Volume 81, July 2018, Pages 274-285

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 101 other subscribers

Follow us on Twitter