Study Finds ADHD Leads to Higher Rates of Injury in Children

In this new study children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD) are twice as likely to be injured badly enough to need medical attention as other children are, a new study finds. Twice!  You'll find this study written up here: The actual study will appear in the September/October issue of Academic Pediatrics, a professional journal.
In the study, researchers analyzed data from questionnaires filled out by the parents of 4,745 fifth graders in Houston, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Ala. that assessed ADHD symptoms. Children who scored high on the ADHD assessment are likely to have ADHD. Parents of children who scored in the 90th percentile for symptoms of ADHD (this research was meant to look at the symptoms of ADHD rather than the diagnosis, and some of these children, in spite of the fact they had all the symptoms were not diagnosed) were nearly twice as likely to report their child had been injured in the previous year than the parents of kids in the lowest percentile (10th percentile) for ADHD symptoms.
"ADHD is a disorder that's associated with impulsive behaviors -- children (especially those with ADHD or ADHD like symptoms) do things without thinking. It's associated with inattention -- they're not really paying attention to risks in their environment. And it's associated with executive function -- planning ahead, thinking ahead and having inhibition when you need it," wrote David Schwebel, author of the study and director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Youth Safety Laboratory. "Children with ADHD are poor at those skills, and that combination of things is leading them to take risks and behave impulsively, which leads to getting hurt." In the study, about 10 percent of kids had one injury during the prior year, 3.5 percent had more than one injury and 86 percent were not injured.
So what should parents do? First, pay attention and be aware.  Observe your child and make sure they practice basic safety rules (wearing a helmet, looking before crossing the street and so on). Practice these skills and over-practice them. "Over-learning" is a key point to training your child to be safe. And then explain all of this to your child. That's right, sit them down, with your doctor or therapist if needed, and review the a positive light! Remember, every bodies brains are different! Some good reading to help with this are books by Dr. Mel Levine and available at the "Schools Attune" or "Minds of All Kinds" websites. Heres the website:
Finally, with your doctor, assess the problem. How impulsive is your child? How effective is the behavioural treatment or medications he or she is taking? Remember, these injuries are caused (or at least linked) to impulsiveness and lack of focus. These are the symptoms that medication helps with the most.  As Dr. Russell says, "These are life medications, not school medications." Often parents come to my office and ask, "I'm thinking about asking Tommy's doctor to take him off his meds on weekend ...and maybe in the afternoon after school," because they are worried, unnecessarily, about effects of different medications. These results should explain why that really needs to be thought through. Concerning the side effects: Ask your doctor. Don't be satisfied with medications that solve one problem and cause another because your child will grow to resist the medication and hate the diagnosis. If there is a problem with the medication, see your doctor. Maybe the best way to think about this is this: ADHD medications are suppose to make your child's life happier. Make sure they do. You and your doctor should be a team.
For more information on my diagnostic and treatment services for children, adolescents and adults with ADHD (ADD) please refer to my web page.  The above opinions are not meant to be medical or psychological advice. See a Licensed or Registered Professional.
Dr. Jim Roche