HealthDay News — For children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without conduct disorders, the psychopathological consequences extend into adulthood, although most of these consequences begin in adolescence, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Rachel G. Klein, Ph.D., from the Anita Saltz Institute for Anxiety and Mood Disorders in New York City, and colleagues examined whether children diagnosed as having ADHD at a mean age of 8 years (probands) had worse outcomes in adulthood at a mean age of 41 years.

One hundred thirty-five white men with ADHD in childhood, without conduct disorder, were compared with 136 men without childhood ADHD for educational, occupational, economic, social, and marital outcomes and for rates of ongoing ADHD, antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), substance use disorders (SUDs), adult-onset psychiatric disorders, psychiatric hospitalizations, and incarcerations.

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The researchers found that educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes were significantly worse for probands. There were more divorces and significantly higher rates of ongoing ADHD, ASPD, and SUDs for probands. However, the rates of mood or anxiety disorders were not increased for probands.

Ongoing ADHD and ASPD correlated weakly with ongoing SUDs. Probands had significantly more ASPD and SUDs during their lifetime and more psychiatric hospitalizations and incarcerations, but no more mood or anxiety disorders. Psychiatric disorders with onset at 21 years or older were not significantly increased among probands compared with non-ADHD participants. For probands without ongoing psychiatric disorders, social, but not occupational, functioning was worse.

“Findings stress the importance of continued monitoring and treatment of children with ADHD, even when conduct disorder is not evident,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Klein RG et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012;69(12):1295-1303.