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Less Resting Time at Age 7 Predicts ADHD at Age 14

June 17, 2020

Lower levels of sedentary activity as measured by actigraphs at age 7 predicted hyperactivity and diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 14, according to a study published online in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

“Interestingly, our results reveal that lower levels of sedentary activity at age 7 were the main predictor for ADHD at age 14, rather than higher levels of vigorous activity,” researchers wrote.

The study gauged whether objective activity data on 5251 children from the Millennium Cohort Study at age 7 predicted parent-rated symptoms of ADHD and parent-reported ADHD diagnosis at age 14.

Following Healthy Lifestyle Recommendations May Reduce ADHD Risk

Less sedentary behavior at age 7 predicted more ADHD symptoms at age 14, researchers reported, and results remained significant after controlling for several factors, including ADHD symptoms at age 7, sex, and body mass index (BMI). Reduced sedentary behavior at age 7 also significantly predicted ADHD diagnosis at age 14.

In addition, the study identified several significant predictors of hyperactivity/inattention at age 14: higher levels of parent-reported levels of hyperactivity/inattention at age 7, being male, lower parent income and academic level, and lower BMI at age 7 (but a higher BMI at age 14). Having mixed or Asian ethnicity, according to the study, negatively predicted hyperactivity/inattention at age 14.

“In conclusion, hyperactivity and ADHD diagnosis at age 14 can be significantly predicted by objective activity levels at age 7, particularly by lower sedentary activity levels,” researchers wrote. “Measuring sedentary activity levels during waking hours could be further developed to aid in the early identification and diagnosing of ADHD.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


Brandt V, Patalay P, Kerner Auch Koerner J. Predicting ADHD symptoms and diagnosis at age 14 from objective activity levels at age 7 in a large UK cohort. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020 June 6;[Epub ahead of print].

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