ADHD Often Manifests as Inattentive Type in Girls. (Less Likely to Be Treated)

Article excerpt

HONOLULU -- Girls with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were more likely to have the inattentive type and were less likely to receive treatment than were boys with the disorder in a secondary analysis of data on 522 children, Dr. Joseph Biederman reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Although boys and girls showed similar rates of mood and anxiety disorders, fewer girls had disruptive behavior disorders or learning disorders.

"These characteristics may adversely impact identification and treatment of [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] in females," said Dr. Biederman, professor of psychiatry and chief of the joint program in pediatric psychopharmacology at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

The subjects came from two identically designed case-control family studies of male and female probands with and without attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) aged 6-17 years.

The combined type of ADHD was most prevalent in both sexes, but girls were more likely than boys to be diagnosed with predominantly inattentive-type ADHD. The impact of ADHD on measures of intelligence and the risk for adverse outcomes was the same for both sexes.

Approximately 35% of the 140 girls with ADHD had conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder, compared with approximately 65% of the 140 boys with ADHD. Nearly 10% of girls with ADHD had a learning disorder, compared with approximately 300% of boys with ADHD.

Significantly fewer girls than boys with ADHD received pharmacotherapy (70% vs. 82%) or psychotherapy (51% vs. 64%), he said.

Previous studies suggested that more males than females develop ADHD, but these studies had methodologic flaws, Dr. …