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Health Risks Going Unmonitored in Teens With History of ADHD

February 20, 2020

As children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) transition into adolescence and young adulthood, primary care providers are missing the mark in monitoring them for several important health risks, warns a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

“We have found that clinicians are more skilled in addressing ADHD in childhood than in adolescence,” said study senior author Thomas Power, PhD, director of the Center for Management of ADHD at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

The longitudinal cohort study included 262 patients diagnosed with ADHD before age 10 at 3 practices in a large primary care network. Researchers aimed to better understand how primary care providers addressed common risks in the population during the transition from childhood to young adulthood.

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Although primary care providers tended to discuss depression, substance abuse, and suicide risk, safe driving was mentioned in just 2 instances, researchers reported. Sexual health risks were discussed with merely half the adolescents.

“Although doctors do a good job screening for many behavioral health risks, like suicide risk and depression, we need to be more aware of the dangers associated with driving and sexual health,” Dr. Power said. “For example, our previous research shows teens with ADHD are more likely to be involved in a car accident particularly in the first month after receiving their driver’s license, so this is definitely an issue that should be discussed with our patients.”

The study also discovered a lack of discussion concerning the unlawful sharing of medication among their peers, which is another major concern in the population.

“Additional resources and training are needed,” Dr. Power said, “so we can ensure primary care clinicians are providing the best care for patients with ADHD as they develop through their teenage years.”

—Jolynn Tumolo

References

Moss CM, Metzger KB, Carey ME, Blum NJ, Curry AE, Power TJ. Chronic care for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: clinical management from childhood through adolescence. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 2020;41 Suppl 2S:S99-S10.

Teens with a history of ADHD need stronger monitoring of health risks [press release]. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; February 11, 2020.

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